The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided to remove Chinese sportswear and equipment brand Li Ning from its list of sponsors for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. As a result of this, the Indian contingent will not wear Li Ning branded apparel during the Games. IOA had recently released the complete kit for the Olympics which had Li Ning on it.
The IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary-general Rajeev Mehta announced this in a statement. They have also appealed to the media to not question the contingent on this matter and allow them to focus on their competitions.
“We are aware of the emotions of our fans and we in an IOA have decided that we will withdraw from our existing contract with an apparel sponsor. Our athletes, coaches, and support staff, will wear unbranded apparel. We are thankful for guidance from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in making this decision.”
The Indian Government has been at loggerheads with its Chinese counterparts over border disputes in the Galwan Valley and adjoining areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China’s role in the rise of the coronavirus pandemic has also worsened the relationship between the two Asian superpowers.
The move comes after a #BoycottChina campaign surfaced on social media. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports under pressure advised the IOA to withdraw its partnership with Li Ning. The Chinese giant was the official kit partner of the Indian contingent.
The IOA is hoping to have a replacement in place by the end of this month, and is in talks with a few companies, Batra informed. Currently, Raymonds is the official ceremonial kits sponsor, while some of the other partners include Nippon Paint, Edelweiss Tokio, and the INOX Group. The multi-sport Tokyo Olympics is scheduled between July 23 and August 8 in the Japanese capital. It has been postponed from last year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.