India simply cannot make up its mind about whether it loves Chinese firms or hates them.
After banning hundreds of Chinese internet companies in 2020, India has now decided to retain a brand from the neighbouring country as the official “apparel partner” for its Tokyo Olympics contingent.
Li-Ning, a Beijing-headquartered company that deals in sales and distribution of sporting goods, will supply the sports attire, and travel and playing kits for India’s 100-member team that will participate in the event that starts on July 23.
Li-Ning and India’s Tokyo Olympics contingent
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) first signed a deal with Li-Ning in May 2018. Besides the Tokyo Olympics, the deal, which is said to value at around Rs6 crore ($822,966), included the Indian teams and officials who participated in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games and the 2018 Olympic Youth Games.
Even though the partnership started much before tension escalated between the two nations, many Indians are not happy that IOA has not reviewed the pact. Some believe this highlights the Narendra Modi government’s hypocrisy in dealing with Chinese firms.
The #BoycottChina trend
Indians’ anger is not misplaced. Last year, after 20 Indian soldiers died in a standoff between the two Asian neighbours, thousands of Indians spent weeks expressing their rage by smashing their Chinese smartphones and TV sets. #BoycottChina trended on Indian social media for weeks as the Modi government banned over 100 Chinese apps, including the wildly popular short-video platform TikTok.
This anti-China wave forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to stop Chinese smartphone brand Vivo from being the sponsor for the Indian Premium League tournament.
At the time, the IOA had also said it will review the deal with Li-Ning. “We have a tie-up with them until Tokyo Olympics. We’ll discuss the matter in our annual general meeting. Our approach will always be the country first,” IOA general secretary Rajeev Mehta told Reuters in June 2020.
But a year later, it seems the IOA has decided to follow in the footsteps of BCCI and gone ahead with the association. Earlier this year, BCCI lifted the ban on Vivo and made it the title sponsor of the IPL league again.
This partnership has continued despite the fact that India has its own sports apparel brands, such as Shiv Naresh, which many Indians on Twitter believe should have replaced Li-Ning.