Former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar on Monday said there was nothing wrong with IOA appointing Salman Khan as the Indian Olympic contingent’s goodwill ambassador and cited the example of how 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.
“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 was quoted as saying by ‘NDTV’.
Salman’s appointment as the goodwill ambassador on Sunday triggered a furore that left the sports fraternity divided with the likes of star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh questioning the move, while Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and other athletes supported the decision.
Asked why do 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 so. May be just a couple of them. Olympics sports are played in a lot of countries where the Indian sports personalities may not be well known at all but Indian films reach all over the world.”
Despite the controversy, the IOA stood firm on its decision to name Salman and said it would rope in more icons from music and cricket to motivate the Rio-bound athletes.