Real wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt questions ‘reel wrestler’ Salman Khan

Real wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt questions ‘reel wrestler’ Salman Khan

Yogeshwar Dutt expressed anger after IOA announced Salman Khan as Indian contingent's Goodwill Ambassador for Rio Olympics.

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Salman Khan was announced as Good Will Ambassador on Saturday. Yogeshwar is currently in Georgia. (Source: PTI)

Salman Khan’s car hadn’t even left the Olympic Bhawan when wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt decided to express his anguish. It had been less than an hour that the actor was named the ambassador of India’s Olympic contingent, a first of sorts. But the London Olympics bronze medallist was not pleased. “What is the purpose of an ambassador? Stop fooling the people of this country,” he tweeted in Hindi.

His 140 characters were enough to set the cat among the pigeons. As it is, the Olympic Bhavan on Saturday was a scene of organised chaos. Some of the association’s office-bearers were not allowed to enter their own office by the bouncers hired to guard Salman. In a cramped hall in the basement of the building, nearly 100 people including the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials and their partners (along with the sportspersons in another room) waited for an hour for him to arrive.

But that was all forgotten the moment he appeared in India’s replica kit for the Olympics. Back stage, table tennis player Manika Batra, who qualified for her maiden Olympics, pouted and posed for a selfie with Salman while hockey team captain Sardar Singh presented the actor a signed jersey. He jokingly blamed Delhi’s odd-even policy for his delayed arrival but beyond the banter lay the moot question that Dutt posed in his inimitable style.

He did not mention Salman’s name in any of his post, but it was obvious his criticism was directed at the actor’s appointment. He further tweeted: “(sic) Kahi bhi ja Kar apni movie ka promotion kare,Es desh me adhikar hai Lekin Olympic movie promotion ki jagah Nahi (This country gives you right to go and promote your movie anywhere but Olympics is not the place for movie promotion),” he wrote, referring to Salman’s upcoming movie Sultan, where he plays the role of a wrestler from Haryana.


Dutt also questioned Salman’s contribution to sport in the country. “(sic) PT Usha, Milkha Singh jaise bade sports star hai jinhone kathin samay me desh ke liye mehnat ki. Khel ke kshetra me Es ambassador ne Kya kiya (Big sports stars like PT Usha, Milkha Singh worked hard for the country in tough conditions. What has this ambassador done for sport?,” he added.

Actor, IOA justify selection
This isn’t the first time Salman is named as an ambassador for sport. In 2009, he was named the brand ambassador for Indian football by the AIFF but it did not take the sport forward even one bit. He was hopeful this time, though. “It depends on both… I feel Olympics doesn’t get the viewership it deserves, which cricket gets, and that’s because we watch it more and other sports don’t get it because we don’t watch them… we are to be blamed,” said Salman, who was roped in as the ambassador by IOA’s commercial partners IOS Sports & Entertainment.

IOA president N Ramachandran said the Bollywood star hasn’t charged a penny. “What Yogeshwar said is his personal opinion. From my point of view, it helps a lot in creating awareness not just about the athletes but also about Olympic sports. When he talks about it, millions of people who do not follow sport will also take a note of it,” Ramachandran said.