Athletes divided, IOA firm on Salman as goodwill ambassador
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s appointment as the Indian Olympic contingent’s goodwill ambassador on Sunday kicked up a storm with star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh questioning the move even as the IOA and some other athletes backed the decision.
Salman, who is playing the role of a wrestler in his upcoming film ‘Sultan’, was named goodwill ambassador by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Saturday in the presence of star woman boxer M C Mary Kom, hockey captain Sardar Singh, and shooter Apurvi Chandela among others. The position itself is unprecedented and IOA’s decision to pick Salman for it left the sporting fraternity divided with London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar and the legendary Milkha Singh leading the criticism.
The IOA, however, stood firm on its decision to name Salman and said it would rope in more icons from music and cricket to motivate the Rio-bound athletes.
“We are very happy and thankful on Salman’s offer to support Olympic Sports in this country. This association is only a gesture and does not include any monetary consideration,” IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta said in a statement. Earlier, Yogeshwar said Salman has done nothing to merit such an appointment.
“Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films,” Yogeshwar tweeted in Hindi.
Milkha too felt that the IOA has taken a wrong decision and should reconsider the move. “India has produced so many sportspersons who have given their sweat and blood for the country like PT Usha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ajit Pal and so many others. One of these could have been made a goodwill ambassador. What was the need to import a person from Bollywood?” he asked. The sentiment was echoed by the likes of former hockey star Dhanraj Pillay.
“I would like to see a sportsperson as brand ambassador."