Retired India cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has accepted the Indian Olympic Association's invitation to take on the role of the Goodwill Ambassador for the Indian contingent to the Rio Olympics.
Tendulkar now joins Abhinav Bindra and controversial pick Salman Khan as the third Goodwill Ambassador for the Rio-bound Indian athletes.
The IOA on Tuesday confirmed that Tendulkar has accpeted its offer after the national Olympic body had invited the batting legend to come on board on 29 April.
"Sachin Tendulkar has accepted our request to become goodwill ambassador of Indian contingent at the Olympics. We have received the official communication from him accepting our request," IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta told PTI.
"We are very happy to have an iconic sportsperson like Mr Tendulkar on board as goodwill ambassador. We are thankful to him. We hope his association and the association of other goodwill ambassadors will take Indian sport forward," he added.
Earlier, the IOA had caused a furore with the appointment of Bollywood actor Salman Khan as Goodwill Ambassador for India's Olympics campaign. The decision sparked a national debate over the actor's merit to be appointed as an ambassador to the Olympic Games. Many backed the actor, citing that a popular face and name would bring much-needed attention to the Olympic athletes.
However, many sporting greats objected to Salman's appointment, including Olympian Milkha Singh and Olympic bronze-medallist Yogeshwar Dutt. Drawing flak for naming the Bollywood star as the Indian Olympic contingent's Goodwill Ambassador, the IOA had then approached Sachin Tendulkar and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman to take up the same role along side the controversial Bollywood star.
The IOA Secretary General, however, said they are yet to get a confirmation from Rehman. "Mr. Rehman is yet to communicate to us but we are hopeful that he will also accept our invitation," Mehta said on Tuesday.
On 30 April, the IOA roped in shooter and 2008 Olympic gold-medalist Abhinav Bindra as well.
Asked about what specific role the goodwill ambassadors would play, Mehta said: "These iconic sportspersons and celebrities will spread the idea of Olympic movement in every nook and corner of the country, every village, block and city of India.
"They will help in building up a sporting culture in this country. We need a sporting culture if we want to become a sporting country."
With PTI inputs
Published Date: May 04, 2016 12:07 pm | Updated Date: May 04, 2016 12:07 pm