Salman Khan Becomes Rio Mascot: Is This A Daft Joke?


The Indian Olympic Association thought it was fitting to name Bollywood actor Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent in the upcoming Rio Games. Khan, who plays a wrestler in his imminent venture Sultan, said he was “honoured” on having being chosen by the IOA to represent the country in the coveted games.

This development, however, received flak from most athletes. According to news reports, legendary athlete Milkha Singh condemned it, saying it was a wrong decision taken by the IOA, sending a Bollywood celebrity to Rio de Janeiro. “I don’t see the need to send an ambassador when the athletes going to the Olympics are the ambassadors for our country. The IOA should not have done this. It is unfair to send a Bollywood celebrity as the brand ambassador for sports,” Singh said.


There was, however, a divided stand on the issue. While a number of sports personalities like Yogeshwar Dutt, Singh and former Indian hockey player Ashok Kumar berated IOA, the Indian men’s hockey team skipper Sardar Singh supported the association’s decision.

The association, in its defence said it has plans of roping in more ambassadors. “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’s secretary general Rajiv Mehta said in a statement.

We are of the opinion that when there is no dearth of sporting talent in the country, having an actor represent India is futile. Khan may be a convincing actor, but at the end of the day, he is a part of another industry. Having him as the goodwill ambassador – in some way – suggests that the IOA lacks faith in its veteran athletes.

The Rio Olympics is a sought-after stage wherein athletes from across the world meet and compete for coveted titles. What is, and will be, an actor’s business there?

Salman Khan’s presence is uncalled for because Rio Games is for sports persons and he is not one. Just because he is essaying the role of a wrestler and his movie releases roughly around the same time as the Olympic Games, does not give him the flexibility to take his promotions on a parallel pedestal.

It appears the actor has hit the jackpot. He may be doing this without any monetary expectations, but the fact that he will take his film on the most-celebrated global sports platform is unsettling.

We hope the IOA realises this and make amends before a general disaccord takes precedence. The country needs to see fellow sports men and women representing it. The Association should appoint more icons, as against pushing a Bollywood actor at the helm of affairs.

Prerna Mittra

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