All you need to know about Salman Khan-Rio Olympics 2016 controversy - Firstpost
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All you need to know about Salman Khan-Rio Olympics 2016 controversy

Salman Khan was named goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but this decision has come with subsequent negative and positive reactions.

Speaking on this new association with IOA Salman said, “I am honoured that Indian Olympic Association has chosen me as the goodwill ambassador for the Indian contingent for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.


Salman Khan with Sardar Singh and Mary Kom. Image from PTI.

“It is a matter of great national pride that our athletes are performing better and better at the Olympic Games and I think we should all join hands in giving them every support and cheer for them so that Rio 2016 becomes our best Olympic tally.”

However, post this announcement there has been outrage from fellow athletes as well as social media. Seeming like unnecessary film promotion for Khan's upcoming film Sultan, the Indian Olympic Associaton's decision has not been received well.

Negative Reactions

At the forefront of the criticism of the appointment of Salman Khan as the ambassador are Milkha Singh and Yogeshwar Dutt.

While Milkha Singh said that he has nothing personal against Salman, he would have preferred if a fellow sportsman was picked instead.

“I am of the view that our sportspersons — be those from shooting, athletics, volleyball or other sports — 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,” the 85-year-old legend told PTI.

“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 events?” he said, adding, "I want that the decision to name Salman Khan as ambassador be revised.”

Meanwhile Yogeshwar Dutt, the London Olympics bronze-medallist, said he cannot understand what purpose such an appointment will serve for the athletes.

"Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films," Yogeshwar tweeted in Hindi. "Can anyone tell me what is the role of goodwill ambassador? Why are you fooling the public?" he added.

"The country needs medals, not sponsors," said Dutt, on twitter.

Postive Reactions

Meanwhile, there have been some positive reactions from Abhinav Bindra, Mary Kom and hockey captain Sardar Singh.

“Salman has a huge fan base. He has good views on sports and it’s a good thing for Indian sports that he has come on board. A lot of people are getting connected to Olympic sports because of him. (But) People are entitled to their views. I respect their opinion,” Sardar said.

“It hasn’t happened before, it’s a good thing for the athletes. It’s good for us to have a brand ambassador like him,” opined Mary Kom, a bronze-medallist from the 2012 London Olympics.

Chess champion Vishwanathan Anand, too, saw nothing wrong with Salman being appointed. "If the things that the sports people need are addressed, then there is no conflict in having non-sports people participate. In fact, we want everyone to get involved," Anand said.

What Salman Khan says

Salman Khan has clearly stated that his association with the Olympics will only be beneficial.

"Olympics doesn't get the viewership it deserves, which cricket gets, and that's because we watch it more and other sports don't get it because we don't watch them... we are to be blamed," the 50-year-old actor told reporters in New Delhi.

"Now, when so many games will be available under one umbrella (Olympics), you will automatically develop interest and then you will have your heroes in individual sports. People would want to go to stadiums to watch their heroes play and hence the popularity will increase. This is the intention," he added.

What the Indian Olympic Association says

“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.

"He is the biggest Bollywood star in the country in terms of mass following and 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," the IOA official asserted.

“Salman Khan is only being appointed from the Bollywood segment and we are in talks with two other big names in music and cricket. We are more than willing to have as many icons including the likes of Anju Bobby George and PT Usha who have the capacity and capability to popularise Olympic sports in the country,” he added.

With inputs from agencies

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