Milkha Singh criticizes appointment of Salman Khan as Rio 2016 ambassador
Milkha Singh's criticism comes on the heels of London 2012 bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt lashing out at the decision.
Legendary Indian sprinter Milkha Singh criticized the appointment of Bollywood actor Salman Khan as India’s ambassador for Rio 2016, and said that a sportsperson would have been a better choice for the post.
"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," he told PTI following the appointment.
He clarified that he was not specifically against Khan, but the decision to ‘import’ a Bollywood actor as India’s ambassador for Rio.
"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 questioned.
"I want that the decision to name Salman Khan as ambassador should be revised," he said.
The criticism from the 4-time Asian Games gold medallist comes on the heels of a similar sentiment from Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who won bronze for the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Dutt fired off an angry missive via social networking site Twitter, where he said, in Hindi, “Can anyone tell me what the job of an ambassador is supposed to be? Is the IOA trying to make fools of the Indian public?”
Ambassador . . https://t.co/vtjb0XWdP8— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) 23 April 2016
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— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) 23 April 2016
He followed that tweet with another referencing past Indian Olympians like PT Usha and Milkha Singh himself, saying they had ‘...won medals for the nation in hard times. What has Salman Khan ever done in the sporting arena?’
Although a small handful of athletes have supported Khan's appointment, the decision has widely been met with extreme derision from significant names within and outside the sporting world, in addition to the general public.
Sources within the IOA have alleged the decision was taken as a result of Salman Khan’s latest film, Sultan, which is associated with wrestling. However, Khan himself has no connection to sport and has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Although recently acquited in a court of law for running over and killing a pavement-dweller in Mumbai, Khan is widely believed by most to be behin the incident; he has also been in trouble for hunting and killing an endangered species – the blackbuck.