France is concerned about Alibaba's partnership with the IOC in relation to whether sensitive data could find its way into the hands of the Chinese state ©Getty Images

The nature of Alibaba’s partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reported to be causing a headache for French authorities, as the countdown to Paris 2024 nears the two-and-a-half years to go mark.

The nub of the issue appears to be concern that sensitive data might somehow find its way into the hands of the Chinese state at a time when tensions with the West over a range of issues have been ratcheting upwards.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has been a worldwide sponsor of the IOC since 2017 with its exclusive categories covering cloud infrastructure and services, as well as ticketing and e-commerce platform services.

Its technology has been a big help in enabling broadcasters to reduce costs and minimise personnel physically operating from Olympic Host Cities during the pandemic.

However, the company has been brought sharply to heel in recent months by the Chinese authorities, with regulators imposing a heavy fine earlier this year.

A recent story by Agence France-Presse on the Paris 2024 situation quoted an unnamed ministerial adviser as admitting "Yes, there is an Alibaba problem", but added that the state was reluctant to say more.

Asked by insidethegames whether it considered it necessary to take steps to prevent Alibaba from being given sensitive information as part of its function as a key service provider for the Games, and whether it was right to assume that information given to the company was potentially available to Chinese authorities, Paris 2024 replied as follows:

Paris 2024 describe the protection of personal data as an issue where
Paris 2024 describe the protection of personal data as an issue where "they are unwilling to compromise" ©Getty Images

"The protection of personal data in the context of the Paris 2024 Games is an essential issue on which we are uncompromising.

"Regarding the data processed by our partners, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules apply and all data will be hosted in Europe.

"We are working closely with the Ministry of the Interior, the French Data Protection Agency (CNIL) and the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI) - their expertise enables us to guarantee the highest level of requirements in terms of data protection and, of course, compliance with the legislation.

"Moreover, we have just appointed a data protection officer to ensure proper compliance with the GDPR.

"Alibaba hosts the Organising Committee’s applications, including its website; ticketing for the Games will be operated by a European specialist who won the public tender.

"With regard to the collection, processing and hosting of accredited persons' data is still underway and is the subject of specific discussions with the authorities."

Alibaba has yet to reply to a query submitted by insidethegames earlier this week.

AFP reported that the Chinese group declined to comment on its questions.

Separately, it has also been confirmed this week that France will not join the diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022.