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IPL to review Vivo deal as India reacts to border skirmish with China

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Indian Premier League’s governing board has announced it will meet this week to review the IPL’s sponsorship deals with Chinese companies following a border skirmish between India and China.

The IPL stated on their official Twitter account on Friday, June 19: “Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans [soldiers], the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals.”

Chinese companies in India are in the spotlight after 20 Indian soldiers were killed by Chinese forces in a Himalayan border dispute on Monday, June 15.

The IPL’s most important sponsor is Chinese mobile phone company Vivo, which holds a five-year title deal with the league, from 2018 to 2022, worth Rs 440 crore ($66m/ €58.8m) per year – the biggest ever sponsorship in Indian sport.

Last week, league authorities indicated the Vivo deal was not under threat, but this position may now be reviewed.

The league is under pressure from lobbyists like the ‘Boycott Chinese Products’ movement, and others, to remove Vivo from the IPL title role – a decision that would not only cost the IPL millions in lost sponsorship revenue but could see the league incur penalties for breach of contract.

The IPL was founded by the BCCI in 2008 and generates the majority of the governing body’s commercial revenues.

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Other IPL sponsor brands with Chinese links include payments bank PayTM, which is part-owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. PayTM is a central sponsor of the league and title sponsor of international cricket in India. India-based fantasy sports brand Dream 11 is also under scrutiny as a BCCI associate sponsor because it has Chinese investors.

According to Indian press reports, the India Olympic Association (IOA) is also appraising its relationship with Chinese sponsors. The IOA signed a deal with Chinese sports apparel company Li-Ning in May 2018, to provide training apparel, leisurewear and footwear to the Indian team and officials, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Rajiv Mehta, secretary-general of the IOA told Indian press sources: “We have a tie-up with them until the Tokyo Olympics. We’ll discuss the matter in our annual general meeting. Our approach will always be country-first.”