It is the first time that a Bollywood celebrity was named country’s goodwill ambassador for the Olympic Games. The announcement was made during a ceremony at Olympic Bhawan.
India’s Olympic medalist boxer Mary Kom, Captain of Indian Men hockey team Sardar Singh, Captain of Indian Women hockey team Ritu Rani and table tennis player Manika Batra were present on the occasion.
IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta, “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. 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 popularizing Olympic sports in the country.”
“We may appoint more icons from other walks of life like music, cricket, art culture and Olympic sports etc.” Mehta added.
Sardar Singh said that that he was happy that the Sultan star came to support the Indian contingent during the Olympics. He added, “It’s a big moment for all athletes participating in the Rio Olympics. Our preparations are going well and we are hopeful of delivering our best results this time.”
Former Olympic Bronze medal winner Mary Kom said, “Salman bhai will inspire the nation to do their best in the Olympics. His association will also raise the interest of the fans in the performance of Indian athletes in Olympic sports.
However, not all are pleased with IOA’s decision of selecting Salman Khan as Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian Contingents for Rio Olympics 2016 as former wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and former sprinter Milkha Singh have criticized the board over selecting the actor.
Dutt had tweeted, “Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films,”
He added, “Can anyone tell me what is the role of goodwill ambassador? Why are you fooling the public?”
The wrestler asked that sportspersons like P.T. Usha and Milkha Singh had worked hard for the country during difficult times but what had the ambassador done in the field of sports.
“What will happen by the appointment of an ambassador? If you had to do this drama, then why not appoint a sportsperson?” he asked.
Milkha Singh said that the country produced so many sportspersons who have given their sweat and blood for the country and one of them could have been made a goodwill ambassador.
He went on to ask, “What was the need to import a person from Bollywood?”
“I want to make it clear that I am not against Salman Khan, but the decision of the IOA is wrong and the Government should intervene in the matter. This is for the first time I am seeing a Bollywood hero being made goodwill ambassador for Olympics. I want to ask has Bollywood ever made any sportsperson an ambassador for any of their mega event?” he said.