Jean Liu, the president of ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, will represent China as an Olympic Torchbearer for the Rio Olympics 2016 Torch Relay, according to an announcement made by Coca Cola on Monday.
“A face of the young and modern China, [Jean Liu] will represent her country when carrying the flame along the Iguaçu route,” stated a press release from Didi Chuxing.
According to Didi Chuxing’s press release, Jean Liu was chosen through a popular vote organized by Coca Cola, one of the global partners for the Rio Olympics 2016 Torch Relay. The relay traces through all five regions of Brazil, totaling a distance of 20,000 kilometers by road and 10,000 miles by air.
Ms. Liu will join 12,000 other torchbearers for the 95-day relay, which concludes on August 5th during the opening ceremony. Specifically, Ms. Liu will participate in the Iguaçu route, named after Iguaçu Falls, a major tourist location in southern Brazil. Eight other Olympic Torchbearers will run the same route, including Lang Lang, a Chinese concert pianist, and Chinese actress Jiang Yiyan.
The relay, which began on May 3rd, features participants like Hanan Khaled Daqqah, a refugee from Syria, and Fabiana Claudino, a two-time Olympic volleyball champion. Even though Didi Chuxing is one of China’s largest ride-hailing startups – the company is valued at a staggering $20 billion USD – Jean Liu is a strange choice for the Olympic Torch Relay. It’s unclear how Coca Cola’s voting campaign was organized, or who the other choices were, but if anything, the result demonstrate China’s influence as a tech growing tech powerhouse – not to mention synergies with Brazil’s own thriving tech demand.
A spokeperson from Coca Cola could not be reached in time for comment.
Founded in 2012, Didi Chuxing competes with a number of ride-hailing startups in China, most notably Uber. In December 2015, Didi Chuxing signed partnerships with Lyft, Grab Taxi, and Ola Cabs to form an ‘anti-Uber’ alliance. Last month, Didi Chuxing launched a new version of its app with U.S roaming capabilities, leveraging Lyft’s driver network and expanding Didi’s service to the U.S. In May, Uber signed a global partnership with Alipay, enabling Alipay as an international payment option for Chinese users of the app.