With just 45 days remaining for the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday decided to drop the Chinese sportswear brand, Li Ning as its official kit sponsor for the Olympics. With this, IOA has also decided that Indian athletes this time will wear unbranded apparel during the Tokyo Olympics, which are rescheduled to be held from 23 July to 8 August.
The move by IOA came after it launched the official kits for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the presence of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, IOA President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra and Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta. During the kits launch on June 3, it was announced that Li-Ning, a Chinese sportswear company will be the official sports apparel partner and will supply the sports attire, including the travel and playing kits for the athletes heading to Tokyo.
The involvement of the Chinese company and declaring it as the official sports apparel partner by the Indian Olympic Association soon led to criticism by the fans making the association withdraw from their ‘existing contract with the apparel sponsor, Li Ning’. As per various sources, it has been reported that the criticism prompted the Sports Ministry to advised IOA to not include a Chinese sponsor for the Games.
The IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta then in a statement said that the association is aware of the emotions of the game’s fans and to respect the sentiments of the people of the country, the association will withdraw from its existing contract with the apparel. It was then revealed that the Tokyo-bound contingent will be wearing ‘unbranded apparel’ during the Games next month.
The statement clearly stated that all our athletes, coaches and support staff, will wear unbranded apparel during Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The Chinese sports giant, Li Ning was the sponsor of India’s kits at the Rio Olympics as well. Indian athletes have also worn Li Ning’s uniforms at the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2018. But since the uproar for the ban of Chinese products in India gained a lot of momentum in recent months, IOC said it is reconsidering its sponsorship deal with Li Ning.