The Chinese sponsorship deals figure as an item on the agenda of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council’s virtual meeting on Sunday. On June 19, IPL’s official Twitter handle had tweeted, “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.”
The tweet had come in the wake of the flare-up on the Line of Actual Control that saw 20 Indian Army personnel, including the commanding officer of 16 Bihar, lose their lives in violent clashes with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley. This will be their first meeting since that tweet.
It needs to be seen how the members react when this issue comes up for discussion. Given the tournament is likely to begin from September 19, it will be practically impossible to find new sponsors at this juncture.
The IPL’s Chinese connections include Vivo, a smartphone manufacturer, as the tournament’s title sponsor; Paytm, a payments company and IPL’s official umpire partner, having investment from Chinese entity Alibaba; Dream 11, IPL’s online fantasy league partner, and Swiggy, the league’s associate sponsor, both having attachment to Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Vivo acquired the IPL title sponsorship for Rs 2,199 crore in 2018 in a five-year deal. The BCCI officials, however, have maintained that they wouldn’t hesitate to terminate the association if the Indian government asks them to do so. “We stand by our government if it decides to ban Chinese products and companies. There are no two ways about it. In case the government decides to ban Chinese products and companies, we (BCCI) will be happy to follow that,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal had told this paper in June.
At the same time, he had said: “In this case (Vivo as the IPL’s title sponsor), we are taking money from a Chinese company. It’s not that we are giving money to a Chinese company. Money, 42 percent of that goes to the Government of India as taxes. So in a way, we are helping the Indian cause.”
Standard Operating Procedure
One of the most important issues in the meeting would be to have consensus on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the tournament, which, subject to the government approval is going to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As reported by this paper, some key norms in the SOP include conducting four Covid tests in two weeks for players, less crowded dug-outs, not more than 15 players in a dressing-room, closed-doors matches at least in the first half of the tournament and six-feet social- distancing norms for commentators.
The SOP will also have detailed safety protocols and guidelines on the squad strength. “We haven’t received any official communication from the BCCI with regards to creating the bio-bubble. But it is likely that the franchises will have to do it on their own. We have our medical guidelines ready. We are waiting for the BCCI directives and accordingly will start preparing our bio-bubble. We expect to hear from the BCCI after the GC meeting tomorrow,” a chief executive of an IPL franchise told The Sunday Express. “We are waiting for the BCCI to list out the SOPs, especially the protocols to be followed in case someone tests positive during the tournament,” he added.
With the third and final ODI between England and Australia scheduled for September 16 at Old Trafford, the IPL players from the two countries might not be available at the start of the tournament. Franchises are eagerly waiting for the SOP that will help them with regards to the late arrival of players. There’s a question mark over the availability of South African players, since international flights are not operating from that country there at the moment.
With foreign players arriving in batches, franchises want clear directives in terms of maintaining the bio-security.
ACU and anti-doping
With travel restrictions in place, the BCCI has to decide whether the entire workforce of its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will go to UAE. With each team needing one integrity officer as well, the Indian board might have to hire personnel from the ICC’s Anti-Corruption team. As for anti-doping, the National Anti-Doping Agency, too, might have to outsource the task of sample collection.
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