Salman Khan was appointed the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Rio Olympics. (Source) As the ambassador, he will most likely accompany the squad at the opening ceremony and canvas for the games in its run-up. It is unclear whether he will be the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony, since that is typically the preserve of a sportsperson. The announcement has cooked up a storm in the sporting world. While many support his appointment, several others criticize it on various grounds.
UPDATE – Abhinav Bindra has also been roped in as a Goodwill Ambassador. So, yeah Salman is not the only one.
This is why it’s good to have Salman as the Goodwill Ambassador:
- Salman was the choice of IOA’s marketing agency (IOS Sports & Entertainment), since it made marketing sense to them. Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra himself said, “If Salman Khan can promote Olympics, it means strategic sense. If Salman can actively boost Olympic sports, more power to him.” (Source) And we all know that in India, Bollywood sells better than Olympic sports. So the agency’s strategy appears to be reasonable – to get an actor with a huge fan following (who’s also reportedly an ace swimmer, body builder and fitness freak – source) to become the ambassador of a sporting event in a country, where it otherwise does not rank anywhere close to the popularity of cricket. It can potentially lift the brand value of Olympics in India and most likely get more eyeballs, and thus, resulting sponsorship.
- An IOA official clarified that Salman Khan was only being appointed from the Bollywood segment, and that talks are on with two other big names in music and cricket. “We are more than willing to have as many icons including the likes of Anju Bobby George and PT Usha who have the capacity and capability to popularise Olympic sports in the country,” added an IOA official. (Source) So why all this hue and cry? UPDATE – Abhinav Bindra has also been roped in as a Goodwill Ambassador. Happy everybody?
- Bollywood stars promoting sporting events happens all the time – singling out Salman for being Salman is unfair. Actor Dharmendra was the first owner to buy a team when the Pro-Wrestling League was announced.The IPL makes most of its money out of “star power”. No one can ignore the contribution of Shah Rukh Khan’s film ‘Chak De India’ to Indian hockey. (Source). Haters claim that Salman killed people on the road, but is that really a justifiable argument when the courts declared him innocent? And for all the allegations and perceptions that exist about Salman, given that lakhs of his fans flock to see his movie anyway shows that the fans probably outnumber the haters!
- Salman is doing this for free anyway! So what’s all the fuss about? (Source)
This is why we should be upset about Salman being the Goodwill Ambassador:
- The examples where Bollywood celebrities typically promote sports are entertainment-driven examples (IPL or pro-Kabaddi or other such tournaments). Olympics is different – it’s a serious world sports and probably for this reason, a Bollywood celebrity was never asked to represent the Indian squad at the Olympics before this incident (Source). No wonder, most real sportspersons (Salman an ace swimmer – really?) are shocked over the appointment.
- India has Sachin Tendulkar and he is retired now, which means he certainly has more free time than Salman. Why is he not the Goodwill Ambassador (hard to imagine him declining a proposal like this – not sure it was ever made to him). Sachin is also clearly more famous across the globe than Salman Khan. Cricket is not an Olympics sport, you say? You are right. But it’s at least some form of a real sport – you see?
- Of all the possible celebrities, Salman, really? With so many upset over him for apparently getting away with murder (from the now infamous hit-and-run case) or the killing of blackbucks – even from a marketing strategy – this looks like a bad strategy. Except for Salman Khan himself, who gets free publicity for his upcoming “sports” movie Sultan.
- Salman may be actually disturbing rather than helping the Olympics. Recently, a practice session in the JLN stadium was actually disrupted due to his upcoming film’s shooting that was taking place there! (Source)
We at Neutral News neither support, nor are against Salman Khan’s appointment as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Olympics. You have both sides of the story now and you can draw your own conclusions. And irrespective of your conclusions, we hope that you will indeed cheer for our Indian sportspersons competing in the event shortly.
Post by Neha Kirpal, edited by Amrit Vatsa