Image Credits: Republic World
Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) decided to drop the Li-Ning Chinese brand as its official kit sponsor. The Indian athletes are therefore set to don unbranded uniforms during the Olympic games which are scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8. Meanwhile, IOA President Narinder Batra spoke to Republic TV and explained the decision.
Narinder Batra stated that the contract between IOA and the Chinese brand Li Ning was signed in 2016 during the Rio Olympics. The contract was signed till the Tokyo Olympics. Batra stated that the team used the kit during many games, however, he acknowledged that sentiments have grown up.
"Since last 2-3 months we have been more involved in sorting out the COVID-19 issue and ensuring that the athletes are safe, secure and training in the best facilities. However, when the kit was launched we saw on social media that the sentiments were growing and we felt that they need to be respected," Batra stated
"Therefore, the decision was taken yesterday that the kit might be sent unbranded or with a new brand. It was a decision taken between our agent in India and the brand agents who signed the contract with the Singapore based company." he added
When asked why an Indian brand was not included, the IOA President added that the best brands are picked up depending on the tenders. Batra added that at the time of the deal, the Chinese company offered the best deal, therefore it was considered. He also added that no sentiments were affected when the brand was considered.
However, he said that unbranded will still include the Indian Olympic Association logo along with other logos. But the manufacturer's logo will be absent from the kit, the IOA President added. Speaking of criticism, Batra stressed on the point of public sentiments and remarked that his personal stand is country first and that public sentiments need to be respected.
"There were no sentiments back then. All this has happened during the last two years. But whatever happens, we have to go with the public sentiments, they are being respected and they will be respected," said Narinder Batra
"These kits were manufactured in India and the party which was making these are in touch with us directly now. The size of athletes and fittings have been finalised and the kit needs to be delivered by end of June. We will consider if we get another brand." he added
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday decided to drop Chinese sportswear Li Ning as its official kit sponsor for the Olympics and decided that the country's athletes will wear unbranded apparel during the Tokyo Games scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8. The IOA had unveiled the Olympic kit designed by Li Ning for the Tokyo Games last week, which led to criticism. It has been learnt that the Sports Ministry then advised IOA to not include a Chinese sponsor for the Games.
With PTI Inputs