Celebrities like actress-politician Kirron Kher and filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya have defended the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) decision to appoint superstar Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for the Rio Olympics.
“It is a very good decision. I am very proud of Salman Khan. All people who are trying to say that only a sportsman should be appointed as an ambassador, I would like to differ from them," Kirron Kher said at the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards event here.
"No need to think that only a sportsman can represent the country. Any eminent personality who inspires us can be a brand ambassador. I welcome the decision.”
The “Kick” star was recently unveiled as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for the Rio Olympics to be held later this year.
The move was questioned by several members of the Indian sports fraternity with 2012 London Olympics wrestling bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt making his displeasure public with a series of tweets barely an hour after the decision was announced.
Kirron also said: “I would request the sports fraternity to be more magnanimous. Be a good-hearted person and give Salman his due respect. We actors are also hard workers and give our best.”
Sooraj Barjatya, who has delivered numerous hits like "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo" with Salman, was also present at the event. He said: “It’s a matter of great happiness because there is no one more just and appreciative like him. He has always been a sports lover, he plays good cricket, football and is a good cyclist. I know him closely so, I’m very happy for him.”
Budding actor Sooraj Pancholi, who was launched by Salman in the industry, was also present and said: “I think that’s a good decision, because he is a very known face. He is doing a film on wrestling ‘Sultan’, so maybe because of that (he was selected).”
When filmmaker Karan Johar was asked about the controversy at the wrap-up party of his production "Baar Baar Dekho", he said: “I love Salman Khan. Whatever he does, he is the best for it.”
Sidharth Malhotra said: “I don’t know much about the controversy. As far as the Olympics are concerned, people who made the decision might have made the right decision. He is a man who is known for his fitness. The authorities who selected him, I am sure they thought of something.”
Actress Katrina Kaif, who was romantically linked to Salman at one point of time, said: “A controversy with Salman, is it a new thing?”