In a bid to honor “public sentiment” with Chinese sportswear company Li Ning, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said on Tuesday that it hopes to find a new sponsor for the country’s Olympic-linked contingent by the end of this month. On Tuesday, the IOA left Li Ning as the official sponsor of the Olympics and stated that the country’s athletes will wear unbranded attire at the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled for July 23 to August 8. But on Wednesday, IOA president Narinder Batra said a new search sponsor is activated for the limited time available.
“The process (to find a new sponsor) is moving forward but the time available to us is very limited. We don’t want to put pressure on anyone and keep them under Duressen. They have to agree with each other,” Batra told PTI.
“At the end of the month, we will have to take a call to go unmarked. The suits are ready and should be handed over to our athletes as soon as possible.”
The IOA presented an Olympic kit designed by Li Ning last week to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, which drew widespread criticism as Chinese companies faced opposition last year after a military clash between the two countries in eastern Ladakh.
Of course, the Ministry of Sports then advised the Olympic body to strengthen relations with the company. The IOA chief said the decision to leave Li Ning was in the public interest.
“I will not take the name of any company or anyone, but we made the decision only after we started receiving criticism from all quarters, including the media following the announcement. We made this decision in light of public sentiment,” Batra said.
Batra said for the IOA and the Ministry of Sports, the priority is to train the country’s Olympic athletes and logistics for their trip to Tokyo for the four-year Games.
While Li Ning was the official costume partner, the official ceremony kit is sponsored by Raymonds.
The head of the IOA also dismissed the report, saying that India, along with nine other countries, could prevent organizers from participating in the Tokyo Olympics because of the proliferation of COVID-19 cases in those countries.
“All of these are media speculations. At the IOA we have heard nothing from either the COI (International Olympic Committee) or the organizers in that regard,” Batra said.
“But still, we have asked the IOC and the organizers of the Tokyo Games to give a clear picture. India is still better positioned than in other nations in terms of COVID cases and mortality rate.”
A Malaysian media report said the Japanese government had asked the Games Organizing Committee to consider denying entry to 10 countries, including India, due to the recent rise in COVID cases.
The report also noted that other countries with potential “no entry lists” are Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.
However, game organizers have also ruled out speculation.
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