Yogeshwar, Milkha slam Salman's appointment as goodwill ambassador

Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who is playing the role of a wrestler in his upcoming film ‘Sultan’, was named goodwill ambassador of the Indian Olympic contingent by the Indian Olympic Association yesterday.

Yogeshwar Dutt won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.   -  S. Subramanium

Bollywood star Salman Khan’s appointment as the Indian Olympic contingent’s goodwill ambassador has not gone down well with star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and legendary sprinter Milkha Singh, who feel a sportsperson should have been chosen for the role.

Salman, who is playing the role of a wrestler in his upcoming film ‘Sultan’, was named goodwill ambassador by the Indian Olympic Association yesterday in the presence of star woman boxer M C Mary Kom, hockey captain Sardar Singh, and shooter Apurvi Chandela among others.

Yogeshwar, the London Olympics bronze medallist, said he cannot understand what purpose such an appointment will serve for the athletes. “Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films. ” Yogeshwar tweeted in Hindi.

“Can anyone tell me what is the role of goodwill ambassador? Why are you fooling the public?” he added.

The 33-year-old felt a sportsperson would have been more apt for the position.

“Sportspersons like PT Usha and Milkha Singh strived hard for the nation during difficult times. But what has this ambassador done in sports. What will happen by the appointment of an ambassador? If you had to do this drama, then why not appoint a sportsperson?” he asked.

“The country needs medals, not sponsors.”

Milkha Singh was also upset with Salman Khan's appointment and agreed with Yogeshwar that it would have been better to pick a sportsperson in his place.

The ‘Flying Sikh’ also demanded that the unprecedented appointment in the run-up to the quadrennial extravaganza should be “revised“. But he made it clear that he had nothing personal against Salman.

“I am of the view that our sportspersons; be those from shooting, athletics, volleyball or other sports, they are the real ambassadors of India who would represent the country in the Olympics. Still, if we had to pick an ambassador, it could have been from the sporting arena,” the 85-year-old legend told PTI here.

“India has produced so many sportspersons who have given their sweat and blood for the country like PT Usha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ajit Pal and so many others. One of these could have been made a goodwill ambassador. What was the need to import a person from Bollywood?” he asked.

Milkha, who won the gold medal in 1958 and 1962 Asian Games, said the fact that no Indian sportsperson had been picked up as ambassador saddened him.

“I want to make it clear that I am not against Salman Khan, but the decision of the IOA is wrong and the Government should intervene in the matter. This is for the first time I am seeing a Bollywood hero being made goodwill ambassador for Olympics. I want to ask has Bollywood ever made any sportsperson an ambassador for any of their mega event?” he said.

“I want that the decision to name Salman Khan as ambassador should be revised,” he said.

However, Mary Kom and Sardar had yesterday backed Salman’s appointment, saying that it would help motivate the athletes training for the quadrennial extravaganza in Rio de Janeiro in August.