An online petition has been launched against the appointment of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan as a goodwill ambassador of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for Rio 2016.
The petition has been started by Aishwarya Rai, who shouldn’t be confused with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan a Bollywood actress who had a two year relationship with 50 year old actor Khan from 1999 to 2001.
She cited “abuse (verbal, physical and emotional), infidelity and indignity” on the part of Khan as reasons for the end of the relationship.
Accessible here, the petition describes the appointment of Khan as a move that is “regressive” and “reflects negatively on India”.
The reasons given for this include claims that Khan is a “serial woman hater/abuser”, an “animal hunter and threat to endangered species” and “a threat to society and human life”.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who captains the Kolkata Knight Riders, has joined the debate on the matter by claiming that sport doesn’t need film stars for publicity.
He has suggested that former shooting world champion Abhinav Bindra, who became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at an Olympic Games when he won 10 metre air rifle gold at Beijing 2008, would have been a better choice.
Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes Beijing 2008 gold medal winning shooter Abhinav Bindra would have been a better choice
Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes Beijing 2008 gold medal winning shooter Abhinav Bindra would have been a better choice ©Getty Images
“Sportspersons do not need publicity, they do the job for the country,” Gambhir, who leads an Indian Premier League team that is co owned by Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, told NDTV Sports.
“His appointment does not give real excitement to a sportsperson.
“I think a sportsperson should have been a much preferred choice.
“As he Bindra is the first guy who has won a gold medal at the Olympics, he would have been the ideal choice.
“I have heard someone saying that sportsmen need publicity and sportspersons need Bollywood, my take is completely different.”
Former Olympic sprinter Milkha Singh and London 2012 bronze medal-winning wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt are other prominent Indian sportsmen to have criticised the decision.
“I am of the view that our sportspersons be those from shooting, athletics, volleyball or other sports are the real ambassadors of India who would represent the country in the Olympics,” said Singh.
“Still, if we had to pick an ambassador, it could have been from the sporting arena.”
Dutt, who came third in the men’s freestyle 60kg at London 2012, said: “Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films.
“Can anyone tell me what is the role of goodwill ambassador?
“Why are you fooling the public?
“The country needs medals, not sponsors.”
Bollywood superstar Hema Malini is among those to have spoken of their support for Salman Khan’s appointment
Bollywood superstar Hema Malini is among those to have spoken of their support for Salman Khan’s appointment ©Getty Images
However, there has been support for Khan’s appointment, most notably from Bollywood superstars Hema Malini and Raza Murad and former India cricket captain, Sunil Gavaskar.
“Why not a known face who is not really a part of that particular profession?,” Gavaskar said in an interview with NDTV Sports.
“If he can bring a lot more awareness to that particular profession then why not?
“I don’t see anything wrong in it.”
The selection of Khan marks the first time in the history of the IOA that a goodwill ambassador has been appointed from Bollywood, the country’s booming film industry.
The announcement was made last month in the presence of several Indian athletes, including London 2012 bronze medal-winning flyweight boxer Mary Kom.
Sardar Singh and Ritu Rani, captain of the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams respectively, were also in attendance along with shooter Apurvi Chandela and table tennis player Manika Batra.
The partnership between Khan and the IOA was facilitated by the IOA’s official marketing agency, IOS Sports & Entertainment.
Courtesy : insidethegames.biz