On June 30th, Alisports (Alibaba Sports Group) launched World Online Running Alliance (‘WORA’) in Shanghai. The Alliance aims to tap into the growing popularity of road running through Apps, associations, events, sponsors and operators. By integrating these five different elements, it offers a one-stop shop for any running fan. According to DaZhong Zhang, CEO of Alisports, WORA is both a ‘trend-setter and game-changer’.

Alisports has signed a contract to partner with CSM, the global sport and entertainment agency. Through its role as the global strategic partner of WORA, CSM will help bring more international events to China, and concurrently assist WORA in becoming an international road running association.

Road running is thriving in China. In 2015, 134 marathon and related events were registered with the Chinese Athletic Association, which represents a 160% growth on the previous year. Meanwhile, 84% of the provinces held one or more of these events indicating a keen interest across the whole country. It is this unquestioned popularity that Alisports is looking to seize upon through the implementation of WORA.

With 100 million running enthusiasts already signed up, WORA’s ambition is to increase this to 150 million. Helping achieve this target are the group of members which includes running Apps like Codoon, The Joy Run, Ledongli Hupu Running, Tenmini, Run Again and iHeHa. However, WORA is not just a simple collection of Apps. It is the five different components, all engaging with each other, that will generate a hugely positive cycle for users.

By providing funding and resources, WORA is attracting a wide-range of sponsors. Through this, it can provide more technical servers and operators, which will help deliver the most effective platform. All of this helps Alisport’s deliver on its long-term objective of making sports accessible and enjoyable for all.

Earlier in July the ‘WO.RUN’ (‘I Run’) series of events began, aiming to integrate online and offline formats. More than 30 WO.RUN events will be taking place across China, attended by 30 different Olympic champions including Ruolin Chen, Man Zhong and Liuyang Jiao. Runners will be able to log their runs online, either from one of the official events or a run of their own, and by doing so will be rewarded with points. These points translate into savings on purchases made on the Alibaba system.

WORA is the embodiment of Alisport’s ambition for people to enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle.