Superstar Salman Khan came under intense criticism after he was appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Rio Olympics.
The opinion within the sports fraternity was divided, with Abhinav Bindra and Viswanathan Anand hailing the move while Milkha Singh and Yogeshwar Dutt criticising the Indian Olympic Association for choosing a Bollywood star over a sporting legend for the honour. Salman's father Salim Khan promptly jumped to his son's defence, going as far as saying that Bollywood was responsible for resurrecting Singh's career.
Finally, Salman Khan has broken his silence, and explained why he thinks he’s the right choice. In an interview with The Times of India, Khan said, “The Olympics are not that well covered and watched in India like in other countries. So, when somebody comes to support the players, it makes them feel good and work harder. They become more inspired and dedicated. Having someone like me helps in creating a buzz about the Olympics.”
When asked to elaborated on what his duties will be as the Goodwill Ambassador and how he plans to meet those, Khan said he wants to bring some energy into the qualifying participants.
“I want to charge up the players and see how they are progressing. If we can increase our medal tally compared to last year, it would be great. When that happens, the infrastructure, diet, coaching and other facilities get better. Pehle (ambassador) nahi lekar aaye thay toh theek hai, par ab jab kisi ko lekar aaye hain toh the players should be encouraged. (If there wasn’t an ambassador before, it’s fine, but now that there is one, the players should feel encouraged). Since I can only participate in the Olympics if walking were a sport, isiliye main woh hoon jo gaadi ko piche se dhakka de sakta hai. (I’m the one who pushes a vehicle from the rear). I will also try to go to Rio in the initial phase of the Olympics," he said.
Our fault is that we blame cricket, while we need to watch more sports on TV compared to the rubbish we watch on TV
The actor emphasised the need to make stars out of sports personalities, who may not be associated only with cricket. “We need to make stars in other sports. Today, people watch tennis because of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza. Similarly, Saina Nehwal and Dipika Pallikal are stars in their own right. Football will take over very soon because the next generation is hooked to football. Our fault is that we blame cricket, while we need to watch more sports on TV compared to the rubbish we watch on TV. Once we do that, TRPs will go up, and players will get endorsements and they will become stars. While flipping through channels, stop at a badminton match, and try to know who is playing. You want hockey to return to its old glory, watch a game - be it in the stadium or on TV. We (Bollywood celebs) just give that initial impetus,” he said.
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