After a backlash on social media, Chinese mobile manufacturer Vivo has pulled out of the Indian Premier League title sponsorship. Vivo will resume sponsorship in 2021 and carry on through 2023. Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India will begin the process to secure a new, one-off sponsor for the 2020 edition in the next three days.
The lucrative and hugely popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament, a programming mainstay for streamer Disney Plus Hotstar, has confirmed that the 2020 edition will take place in the United Arab Emirates, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in India.
Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Vivo will remain as the tournament’s title sponsor, despite simmering tensions between India and China over a deadly border dispute. One of the fallouts of the conflict was TikTok and several other Chinese owned apps being blocked in India due to national security concerns.
The decision to retain Vivo has sparked a storm in India with the hashtag #BoycottIPL trending on social media.
This is a sad way to display national unity to a global audience. Evidently, for the @BCCI money means more than national sentiments. A sad example by India's top sports body. #BoycottIPL https://t.co/TXJHIY1wrH
— Maj Gen Harsha Kakar (@kakar_harsha) August 3, 2020
Vivo had won the title sponsorship rights in 2016 for two years for the 2017-2019 period, bidding $26.6 million. In 2019 the company renewed the sponsorship for five years with a bid of $292 million. The next highest bidder was another Chinese phone manufacturer, Oppo, with $190 million. Oppo was previously the sponsor of the Indian national cricket team.
In June, at the height of the border crisis, the IPL governing council had decided to review its existing sponsorship deals.
Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans, the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals 🇮🇳
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) June 19, 2020
On Sunday, the council met virtually, and decided to retain its sponsors. The tournament will be played across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, subject to clearances from the government of India, from Sept. 19 through Nov. 10.
The tournament was due to kick off in March, but was indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic.
In 2017, Star India, then part of 21st Century Fox, bid $2.55 billion for five-year rights through 2022 for Indian Premier League rights.
India now has 1.8 million known cases of COVID-19 with 38,000 deaths. The U.A.E. has been relatively unscathed with 61,000 cases and 350 deaths.