India’s cricket board has announced it will drop Chinese smartphone company Vivo as the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year.
Vivo paid $300m (£230m) for a five-year sponsorship deal in 2018.
The decision comes amid rising anti-China sentiment in India in the wake of a clash along their shared border in June. Twenty Indian soldiers died.
The cricket board had been criticised for not dropping the firm as a sponsor because of the tensions.
In a short statement, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said it had “decided to suspend” its partnership with Vivo for 2020 without giving details.
Vivo said the decision had been mutually agreed, AFP reported.
Other IPL sponsors – Paytm, a digital payments company, Swiggy, a food delivery application, and Dream 11, an online fantasy league – are also connected to Chinese-based internet companies.
Meanwhile, India has also taken steps to ban as many as 59 popular Chinese apps, including TikTok, in the country recently.
The Indian Ministry of Information Technology said it had received numerous complaints about the apps “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner”, but analysts linked the move to the escalating border tensions.
The IPL said in June it would review its sponsorship deals following the border clash on the two countries’ disputed Himalayan border in Ladakh.
The clash, in an area where firearms were banned, saw some Indian soldiers apparently beaten to death after being hugely outnumbered by Chinese troops.
It provoked angry protests in India, with people burning Chinese flags.
Initially the IPL decided to keep Vivo because of fears that it would prove difficult to find a new sponsor in the current economic climate.
But Hindu nationalists threatened to boycott the league unless it changed its mind.
Earlier this month, the cricket board announced the tournament would be held in the United Arab Emirates from 19 September, as the Covid-19 crisis had made it impossible to hold it in India.
The 53 IPL matches, including the final on 10 November, will be played across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
The Twenty20 competition, originally due to start on 29 March, was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is one of the richest tournaments in the world, attracting some of the sport’s biggest names. Teams are owned by business tycoons and Bollywood celebrities, who pay millions to buy and sell players for their teams. (BBC)