IOA defends Salman’s appointment as ambassador; Abhinav Bindra backs superstar on condition
New Delhi: Amidst heavy criticism by some of the top-most sport personalities, Indian Olympic Associations on Sunday defended its decision of appointing superstar Salman Khan as the goodwill brand ambassador of India’s Rio Olympics contingent and said that it would also rope in icons from music, cricket and other sports to motivate the athletes in the future.
“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.
“Our key objective of bringing him on board is to draw maximum attention from the masses, due to which there will be more eyeballs and viewership which will eventually result in popularising Olympic sports in the country. We may appoint more icons from other walks of life like music, cricket, art culture and Olympic sports etc,” he added.
Meanwhile, India’s only individual gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra has come out in Salman Khan’s support but also has a condition to it.
"If Salman can actively boost Olympic sports, more power to him. If it is just for a day's publicity, then it is of no use," said Bindra to a leading channel.
Khan’s appointment as the goodwill ambassador triggered off a controversy when star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh questioned the move.
"I am of the view that our sportspersons; be those from shooting, athletics, volleyball or other sports, they are the real ambassadors of India who would represent the country in the Olympics. Still, if we had to pick an ambassador, it could have been from the sporting arena," said Milkha Singh, who won gold for India in 1958 and 1962 Asian Games.
Whereas, Yogeshwar Dutt, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, who has already qualified for the Rio Olympics in the 65 kg category, had said, “Sportspersons like PT Usha and Milkha Singh strived hard for the nation during difficult times. But what has this ambassador done in sports. What will happen by the appointment of an ambassador? If you had to do this drama, then why not appoint a sportsperson?”