India drops Chinese clothing sponsor Li Ning for Tokyo Olympics team

India dropped Chinese sportswear Li Ning as the official kit sponsor for the upcoming Olympics on Tuesday, with the country’s athletes expected to wear unbranded clothing in Tokyo. The move comes after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) faced criticism for unveiling Indian jerseys with the Chinese brand last week amid strained relations between the two neighbors. « We are aware of the emotions of our fans and we in an IOA (sic) have decided to withdraw from our existing contract with a clothing sponsor, » said IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary Rajeev Mehta in a statement. “Our athletes, coaches and support staff will be wearing unbranded clothing. « 

A deadly border clash between the two countries last year sparked calls in India to boycott Chinese products and companies.

The Indian Premier Cricket League has suspended its multi-million dollar deal with Chinese phone maker VIVO for a season in 2020 only to bring them back on board this year.

But the IOA has said it doesn’t want outside pressures affecting the training of their athletes.

“We are grateful for the advice of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in making this decision,” said Batra and Mehta.

“We would like our athletes to be able to train and compete without having to answer questions about the clothing brand. As it is, they have all been challenged by the pandemic in the past year and a quarter and we want them not to be distracted. « 

The Olympics, which have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, are expected to be held between July 23 and August 8.

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