Chinese smartphone company Vivo will sponsor the Indian Premium League cricket tournament, making a comeback seven months after the deal with the Board of Control for Cricket in India was suspended during a standoff at the Line of Actual Control, reported PTI on Wednesday.

“Vivo is back as the title sponsor of IPL and that is very encouraging and exciting for us because IPL is the biggest property in India and is a perfect amalgamation of sports and entertainment, so we are looking forward to the 9th of April, when IPL begins,” Vivo India Director Brand Strategy Nipun Marya told the news agency.

The company also said that it will focus on new technologies such as 5G, and expand its portfolio of premium devices. Mobile phone companies, including Xiaomi and Samsung, are Vivo’s competitors.

Marya added that the temporary pause on the sponsorship was a mutual decision, and the company and the BCCI looked at the larger environment before pausing the deal. “The whole environment has certainly now changed for the better and overall the environment is better,” the Vivo official said. “I think it’s befitting that Vivo is back as the IPL title sponsor....Our old contract is as it is and we continue with all the terms and conditions we earlier had on the contract.”

This year’s edition of the cricket tournament will be held from April 9 to May 30 across six venues – Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Ahmedabad. The final match will be played on May 30 in the recently renamed Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera.

On August 6, 2020, the BCCI and Vivo had decided to suspend their partnership for the 2020 IPL that began on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates amid a clamour to boycott Chinese products in the wake of the border standoff with Beijing.

In June, residents of an apartment complex in Surat smashed what appeared to be a China-made television set in the presence of reporters to register their protest.

The Indian government also passed new rules restricting investments coming from China, and banned a number of apps including TikTok that were Chinese in origin.

Vivo’s deal, worth Rs 440 crore each year, was suspended amid growing tension between the two countries. The company won the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years – 2018 to 2022 for an estimated amount of Rs 2,190 crore. The Chinese smartphone firm will now be the title sponsor of the IPL till 2023.

The company plans to focus on 5G and its portfolio of devices costing more than Rs 20,000. “There you will see a lot of action from our side and the way we have invested in 5G in the last so many years, Vivo take a strong position as far as launching products in 5G,” Marya told PTI. “We will be at the forefront of innovation, bringing latest product to the market when it comes to 5G.”

The border standoff

Border tensions flared up in June after deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clashes. China identified the casualties on its side only in February, saying that four soldiers died.

Both countries announced an agreement in February for soldiers to disengage on either side of the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh, where the first clashes took place in May. Thousands of soldiers from the two sides have been deployed on the Himalayan frontier since April on the Line of Actual Control.

The disengagement process along Pangong Tso began on February 10, as military commanders began pulling out troops, tanks and artillery from the area in the first step towards full withdrawal. On February 20, India and China held commander-level talks to discuss pulling back from other areas.

On February 25, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi agreed in a telephone call that after the completion of disengagement of troops from in Pangong lake area, both sides should “now quickly resolve the remaining issues” in Ladakh.