Chinese smartphone maker hits India where it hurts most-Cricket

(Image credit: IPL)

You cannot call it as a tit-for-tat for ban by the Indian government on Chinese apps.

But the rising anti-China sentiment in the country is surely one of the reasons why the Chinese smartphone maker Vivo has pulled out of sponsoring this year’s edition of the IPL, India’s popular T20 cricket league.

Ever since India and Chinese forces started clashing near the Indian border State of Arunachal Pradesh, sponsorship by Chinese firms in Indian sports was under scrutiny. Of course, the big-ticket Vivo sponsorship was in particular focus.

Vivo, he secon highest sold smartphone in India, is IPL’s title sponsor and it pays the BCCI Rs 440 crore annually for the 5-year deal which they bagged in 2017 by bidding a whopping Rs 2,199 crore in 2017.

Now, considering the general mood in India, Vivo has announced that it was taking a break from sponsoring this year’s IPL, which is scheduled to be held in UAE (the Covid-19 situation has not improved in India).

Vivo has said that it will honour its contractual obligation in 2021, 2022 and 2023. But nothing can be said with any amount of certainty.

Aside from anti-China sentiments, Vivo also wanted some discount in the sponsorship amount (considering the market reality), but apparently that also did not happen.

Of course, Vivo is not the sole Chinese sponsor in the fray as far as Indian cricket is concerned. Till late last year, the Indian cricket team itself was sponsored by Vivo’s sister company Oppo. But it exited, and Indian edu app unicorn Byju’s is the current sponsor of the Indian cricket team. But as it happens, Byju’s has investment from the Chinese major Tencent.

Other companies involved in the IPL — Paytm, Swiggy, Dream 11 — all have Chinese investments. Not just the IPL, the teams too attract Chinese sponsorship.

The Indian government has already banned 59 Chinese mobile applications. Calls for boycotting Chinese products have intensified after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley clash on June 15.

India also carried out a follow-up ban on 47 Chinese apps late last month.

August 5, 2020
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