Mumbai: Even as opinion among sportspersons about Salman Khan's appropriateness as India's ambassador for the Rio Olympics remains divided, celebrities from the film industry — like actress-politician Kirron Kher and filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya — have defended the Indian Olympic Association's decision.
"It is a very good decision. I am very proud of Salman Khan. All people who are trying to say that only a sportsman should be appointed as an ambassador, I would like to differ from them," Kirron said at the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards event here.
"No need to think that only a sportsman can represent the country. Any eminent personality who inspires us can be a brand ambassador. I welcome the decision."
"I would request the sports fraternity to be more magnanimous. Be a good-hearted person and give Salman his due respect. We actors are also hard workers and give our best," Kirron added.
Barjatya, who has delivered numerous hits like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo with Salman, was also present at the event. He said: "It's a matter of great happiness because there is no one more just and appreciative like him. He has always been a sports lover, he plays good cricket, football and is a good cyclist. I know him closely so, I'm very happy for him."
When filmmaker Karan Johar was asked about the controversy at the wrap-up party of his production Baar Baar Dekho, he said: “I love Salman Khan. Whatever he does, he is the best for it.”
Sidharth Malhotra said: “I don’t know much about the controversy. As far as the Olympics are concerned, people who made the decision might have made the right decision. He is a man who is known for his fitness. The authorities who selected him, I am sure they thought of something.”
Actress Katrina Kaif, who was romantically linked to Salman at one point of time, said: “A controversy with Salman, is it a new thing?”
Salman's father Salim Khan had spoken out against those who criticised the choice of Salman as the face of India's Olympic quest on Twitter.
On Monday, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, defended Salman's appointment by the IOA.
"I have to say that anyone, who is doing good to represent the country or working or speaking or standing for the betterment of art, music or sports, is wonderful and the person needs to be recognised," she told PTI.