India Withdraws Chinese Kit Sponsor Ahead Of Tokyo Games

Image Credit: Twitter/Kiren Rijiju

The Logical Indian Crew

India Withdraws Chinese Kit Sponsor Ahead Of Tokyo Games

Since 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in a skirmish with Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh last year, Chinese enterprises have suffered a backlash in India.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has ousted Chinese sportswear manufacturer Li Ning as its official kit partner, citing popular opinion in the nation, and announced that its competitors will instead wear unbranded clothes during the Tokyo Olympics.

Since 20 Indian troops were killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops in a Himalayan border dispute last year, Chinese enterprises have suffered a backlash in India.

At the time, the IOA decided to reconsider its agreement with Li Ning, which was set to expire after the Tokyo Olympics.

It announced last week that it has canceled the partnership out of respect for "sentiments of the people of the country".

"We are aware of the emotions of our fans and we ... have decided that we will withdraw from our existing contract with an apparel sponsor," IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said in a statement, reported Reuters. "Our athletes, coaches, and support staff will wear unbranded apparel," he added.

Representatives for Li Ning in India were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, India unveiled their Li-Ning produced team wear. However, they received severe backlash for it.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, said in Beijing, "We hope India can view regular cooperation between countries objectively and fairly, and avoid politicizing the issue."

The IOA stated that the question of who created the uniforms should not be a distraction.

"We would like our athletes to be able to train and compete without having to answer questions about the apparel brand. As it is, they have all been challenged by the pandemic over the past year and a quarter and we want them to be not distracted, " it added.

The IOA stated that it was advised in making this conclusion by the Sports Ministry.

"The ministry and everybody else was on the same page on this issue," said Batra, who also heads the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The IOA is now seeking a new sponsor.

"The kits are ready, it was just a matter of placing the logo on them. We're looking for another sponsor but time is very limited," added Batra.

Meanwhile, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said that only India will be written on athletes' kit.

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