The Indian Olympic Association has named actor Salman Khan as the goodwill brand ambassador of the Indian contingent participating in the Rio Olympics 2016. The actor, whose next film is based on the life of a wrestler, will be part of the Indian contingent in Rio.
For someone who has always maintained that sportsperson should get primacy when it comes to a sporting event, I have not been too amused with this move by the IOA. In a country where the pecking order among celebrities is film-stars (perhaps now TV stars too), followed by cricketers, at the cost of almost every other sportsperson, I would have been delighted if some sporting hero, someone who has done our nation proud, had become the ambassador for the Olympics. After all there is no bigger celebration of sportsperson than the Olympic Games. But trust the IOA to do something else.
It is almost as if the Olympic body, that has almost always treated sportsperson with disdain, what with reports of some officials forcing probables to serve tea and snacks during meetings, is doing for its own bosses to satisfy their urge to be seen with the film-star. Disgusting! In fact, the way they mistreat sportsperson was raised by me in a post in March 2013 too. But why should we learn?
Not surprising, therefore, that two of the sporting greats of the country, the irrepressible and blunt, Milkha Singh, who is also the Lifetime achievement award winner of the inaugural TOI’s Sports Awards last year, and the Olympic bronze medal winner wrestler, Yogeshwar Dutt have criticized this move by the IOA. Both these guys are iconic, have participated at the highest levels in sports. They have given their blood and sweat to be where they are, to make their nation proud. It is not acting in a film to rake in the moolah.
As this post says right in the beginning, Salman Khan’s next film is about wrestling and to a layperson, it would appear this move would benefit his movie more than the sportsperson themselves. Should it have been done, then? Honestly, I have nothing against Salman Khan. Good actor with millions of fans. But he also has court cases against him for serious offences.
So, would I want him as the ambassador for my sporting heroes who will participate in the Olympics in the next few months? Never!