The IPL’s Sponsors are China-Linked Companies. So How Many Will Boycott the Tournament?

Social Commentary

The IPL’s Sponsors are China-Linked Companies. So How Many Will Boycott the Tournament?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

In the aftermath of the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley, there was a loud cry to boycott Chinese products. And by loud, I mean both literally and metaphorically. While some people threw their China-made television sets out of the balcony, others boasted about a certain “suddenness” of the move to ban certain apps originating from China. In the days to come, the government cancelled some contracts that were earlier given to Chinese companies and people now get shamed if they want to buy something that is “Made in China”.

While many in government and media lecture the average person to boycott Chinese products, the Indian Premier League which will be held in UAE in September will continue with sponsors linked to China. The decision was taken by the tournament’s governing council during a video-conference on Sunday, and is subject to approval from the government.

Vivo is the title sponsor for the IPL while Paytm, which holds investments from Alibaba, is an umpire partner. The list of sponsors also include Dream 11 and Swiggy, both of whom have links to Chinese Internet giant Tencent. The company has also been in the news lately with rumours floating around that a ban of the popular game PUBG Mobile is around the corner. PUBG is developed by Tencent Games.

Earlier, the BCCI had said that it would reconsider the sponsorship after border tensions with China. However, a governing council member recently told The Indian Express “We don’t have the time to make any changes at this moment.”

The decision drew strong criticism on social media. Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah stated that he felt bad for the “idiots” who threw their Chinese-made TVs off their balconies only to see this happen. He also pointed out that we seemed confused about how to handle Chinese money, investment, sponsorship, and advertising.

Congress member Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the government of double standards.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, that was at the forefront of the campaign to Boycott Chinese goods, has demanded the BCCI to reconsider its decision to allow Vivo to continue as the major sponsor of the IPL.

Ashwani Mahajan, the national co-convener of the SJM said “The call for boycott of Chinese goods is no longer just a demand from the SJM, it is a call being supported by ordinary citizens in the wake of what transpired between India and China. The whole world is boycotting China, IPL is sheltering them. They should understand that nothing is above the nation, not even cricket.”

Cricket fans have also been furious with the decision, with #BoycottIPL trending on Twitter.

“Indian Premier League (IPL) is a business & those running this biz are insensitive towards the nation and its security concerns. Whole world is boycotting China, IPL is sheltering them,” said columnist Ashwani Mahajan.

“Everyone is doing their part, why can’t they?”

The IPL will be held in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to November 10.