Shooter Abhinav Bindra’s appointment as goodwill ambassador of India’s Rio-bound Olympic squad by the Indian Olympic Association is not a cover-up after the widespread criticism IOA drew for appointing Salman Khan in a similar capacity, insists its secretary general Rajeev Mehta.
India's ace marksman Abhinav Bindra. Pic/AFP
"Bindra was always in our plans. A sportsman of his calibre cannot be ignored. We just took a few days to work out the details and make the announcement.
In the meantime, certain factions began criticising Salman Khan’s appointment, which we feel is improper" Mehta told mid-day from New Delhi yesterday.
Mehta said that the IOA had met up with its marketing arm, IOS Sports and Entertainment, six months ago and drawn up a plan to pick one prominent personality each from the field of cinema, music, cricket and Olympic sports.
"IOS managed to contact Salman first and he also gave his nod quickly, so we made that announcement first. Besides Beijing gold medalist Bindra, in the field of music, we have approached AR Rahman and in cricket, we have sent a request to Sachin Tendulkar.
"We are yet to hear from them, so we have not announced their association yet," explained Mehta, who is convinced that Salman’s appointment is not a mistake.
"We have chosen all our ambassadors keeping in mind their professional achievements and Salman is a very prominent face in the world of Hindi cinema, not just in India, but abroad too. So, he is an apt choice," added Mehta.
Meanwhile, moments after Beijing Olympics gold-winner Bindra yesterday said that he was honoured to be appointed goodwill ambassador, he also clarified that he, "would be doing this only until July 15 and after that my focus will completely be towards my own performance until my event."
Mehta couldn’t agree more. "We understand Bindra’s priorities and will only use his services as per his convenience. We respect the time and effort put in by our athletes as they strive to achieve the ultimate goal — an Olympic medal," Mehta signed off.