The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided to remove ‘Li Ning’ as its official kit sponsor for the upocoming Tokyo Olympics as the association with the Chinese sportswear brand had drawn criticism from Indian fans.
After the development, the Indian athletes will wear unbranded apparel during the showpiece event, scheduled to be held between July 23 and August 8.
Earlier last week, the IOA had unveiled the Olympic kit designed by Li Ning however, the Sports Ministry later asked the association to refrain from including 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 said in a statement.
“Our athletes, coaches and support staff, will wear unbranded apparel. We are thankful for guidance by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in making this decision,” Batra added.
“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,” he further explained.
As per reports, the IOA is in talks with few sportwear brands as it doesn’t want the Indian athletes to feature in the showpiece event unbranded.
Significantly, there had been widespread demand for the boycott of Chinese products since tension between Indian and Chinese army had escalated in the Galwan valley last year.