On Wednesday, China urged India to view bilateral cooperation in an “objective and fair manner” after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) dropped Li Ning as its kit sponsor for the Tokyo Olympics-bound contingent citing “public sentiment”. The decision to separate ways with the sportswear company was taken by the IOA on Tuesday, a week after unveiling the kits in the presence of sports minister Kiren Rijiju. IOA President Narinder Batra said a new sponsor is being looked for and he hopes to find one by the end of this month.
“As for the specific business cooperation, I am not aware of it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a media briefing in Beijing responding to a question on the IOA’s decision. “We hope that the Indian side will be objective and fair in viewing our normal cooperation between the two countries rather than politicising the issue,” he said. It has been learnt that it was the Sports Ministry that advised IOA to not include a Chinese sponsor for the Games.
“We are aware of the emotions of our fans and we in a IOA have decided that we will withdraw from our existing contract with an apparel sponsor,” IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary general Rajeev Mehta had said in a joint statement.There have been calls for boycott of Chinese products after face-off between the armies of the two countries in eastern Ladakh last year. Last year, the Indian cricket board had put the Chinese sponsorship of the IPL on hold for a while but the company — mobile manufacturers Vivo — is now back as the contract, worth Rs 440 crore annually, was on temporary hold and not suspended.