Gavaskar backs Salman as Rio ambassador

Gavaskar felt that Salman, a popular movie star, will promote the Indian Olympic contingent in countries, where Indian athletes aren't very popular. "Olympic sports are played in a lot of countries, where the Indian sports personalities may not be well known but Indian films reach all over the world," he said.

Sunil Gavaskar backed the IOA's decision to appoint Bollywood star Salman Khan as the Indian Olympic contingent's goodwill ambassador.   -  PTI

Former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar today said there was nothing wrong with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appointing Salman Khan as the Indian Olympic contingent’s goodwill ambassador, citing how the Indian Premier League (IPL) “benefitted” through its association with Bollywood stars.

“Why not a known face who is not really a part of that particular profession? If he can bring a lot more awareness to that particular profession, then why not? I don’t see anything wrong in it,” Gavaskar said to NDTV.

“How has IPL been benefitted by having Bollywood stars in it? It has helped considerably in bringing the crowd to the stadium. Eventually, it’s mainly because of the kind of cricket being played that will decide the fate of that edition of the IPL but having Shah Rukh (Khan), Preity (Zinta) in the ground, a lot of people come to see them, so that’s a plus,” he said.

Salman’s appointment yesterday triggered a furore that left the sports fraternity divided, with the likes of Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh questioning the move.

INDIAN FILMS HAVE A GLOBAL REACH: GAVASKAR

Asked why sportspersons need Bollywood stars to promote them, the legendary batsman said: “Well you tell me a sportsperson who is well known than Salman Khan all over the country or may be outside the country. I don’t think there are many… Maybe just a couple of them. Olympic sports are played in a lot of countries, where the Indian sports personalities may not be well known but Indian films reach all over the world.”

Despite the controversy, the IOA backed its decision and said it would rope in more icons from music and cricket to motivate the Rio-bound athletes.

BINDRA WOULD’VE BEEN THE PERFECT CHOICE: GAMBHIR

However, another India cricketer Gautam Gambhir was against the move.

“There is no shortage of sportspersons in the country. People [sportspersons] have done great things in this country. I would have been happier had Abhinav Bindra or someone else been made the goodwill ambassador,” Gambhir said.

“For me, Bindra would have been the ideal choice as he is India’s lone individual gold medallist.”

Gambhir took a dig at Salim Khan for saying that Milkha Singh came back from oblivion due to the biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’.

“I heard someone saying sportsmen need publicity or sportsmen need Bollywood, but sportspersons do not need Bollywood or film industry for publicity, it is the other way round.

“Movies do not give them (sportspersons) excitement. They do the job for their country because that’s their passion,” said Gambhir.

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