India’s Board of Control for Cricket is seeking a new title sponsor for the 2020 Indian Premier League season after the suspension of its five-year agreement with Chinese telecommunications company Vivo.
The suspension was announced in a brief statement by the BCCI last week and came when Indian troops were in a tense standoff with Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh in the Himalayas. In June, India banned 59 apps with Chinese links, saying their activities endanger the country’s sovereignty, defense and security.
The lucrative Twenty20 league is being staged in the United Arab Emirates from next month, and the title sponsorship became vacant last week.
The IPL has already been pushed back from its usual mid-year start and moved abroad because of the spread of COVID-19 in India, which has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.
India has reported nearly 2.3 million infections and more than 45,000 deaths from the new coronavirus.
The BCCI has announced it will accept bids for the title sponsorship until Aug. 18, setting a benchmark of a minimum $40 million turnover for companies wanting to apply.
Sourav Ganguly, the former test captain who is now president of the BCCI, last week said his board was well prepared to deal with the sponsorship issue and was keeping its options open.
“I wouldn’t call it as a financial crisis,” Ganguly was widely quoted as saying in the Indian media. “It’s just a little bit of a blip."
The IPL is set to run from Sept. 19-Nov. 10, although no detailed schedule has been released.
Organizers have sent proposed protocols to the eight franchises, including regulations relating to coronavirus testing before and after players, coaches and team staff arrive in the UAE for the tournament.
The teams, including owners, will be required to stay and play in so-called bio-secure bubbles around venues during the tournament.