Chinese mobile phone company Vivo is likely to pull out as the Indian Premier League's title sponsor for this year and is in talks with the BCCI for an "amicable separation" amid rising Sino-India diplomatic tensions.
The one-year pullout could be treated as a moratorium period and if relations between the two countries improve, BCCI may look at inking a fresh three-year deal with the company from 2021 to 2023 on revised terms. The IPL will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 this year.
"Yes, the discussions are on between BCCI office-bearers (president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah) with the representatives of the company. There is a possibility that Vivo will not be title sponsors for one year," a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The BCCI has faced a lot of heat for deciding to continue its deal with the Chinese company at a time when India's relations with neighbours China are at an all-time low following the Galwan Valley standoff, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in skirmishes.
Earlier on Sunday, BCCI had got the central government's permission to host the tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) instead of India, which is currently the third-worst-affected country in terms of the COVID-19 caseload.
It had on the same day decided to retain all their sponsors, including Vivo, which evoked sharp reactions from some quarters, including organisations such as The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM).
"Even though we had expected the BCCI to take a decision and remove Vivo but the BCCI cannot really give up their lust for money and therefore the pressure applied by CAIT for boycott of the event and withholding permission for IPL 2020 has played strongly on the mind of the Chinese company to push them to take such a bold decision.
"The CAIT has successfully been running a campaign to boycott Chinese goods across the country since 10 June which has been supported by millions of citizens of India," CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said while reacting to Vivo's pullout.
If confirmed, the decision will leave the BCCI with the task of finding new sponsors for the 2020 edition with a little over a month for the tournament to begin. According to India Today, the board is set to float a tender for new title sponsors in three days.
The league is set to take place in the UAE this year between 19 September and 10 November.
Vivo had stepped in as the title sponsors for the league in 2015 after PepsiCo's pullout following the 2015 IPL spot-fixing scandal. The Chinese mobile firm had paid an amount of Rs 196 crore for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, before shelling out a whopping Rs 2,199 crore to hold the title sponsorship for a period of five years from 2018 to 2022 — which amounted to Rs 440 crore per season.
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