Salman Khan Olympics row: Salim slams Milkha Singh for comments, says Bollywood ‘rescued you from oblivion’

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Updated: April 25, 2016 11:22:28 PM

Salman Khan's Olympics appointment as goodwill ambassador of India's contingent has drawn some furious reactions, but while defending his superstar son, Salim Khan started a fresh row by slamming Milkha Singh...

Bollywood star Salman Khan Olympics appointment as goodwill ambassador of India’s contingent for the upcoming Rio Olympics has drawn some furious reactions from a number of people while at the same time it has brought others on the side of the megastar actor with noted scriptwriter, and the actor’s father, Salim Khan starting a fresh row by criticising iconic sportsman Milkha Singh while defending his son. 50-year-old Salman Khan’s appointment has been criticised by some top sportspersons, including star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh who have questioned IOA’s decision to go with the superstar and ignore sportspersons for the role.

Salim took to Twitter to support his son, who plays a wrestler in his upcoming film “Sultan”, while also taking potshots at Milkha Singh. “Salman Khan may not have competed but is an A-level swimmer cyclist and weight lifter.. Sportsmen are performing because of sports lovers like us,” Salim, 80, wrote. Milkha, whose life was turned into a blockbuster film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, had said that sports personalities like PT Usha should have been considered by IOA instead of importing “a person from Bollywood.” Reacting to this Salim said, “Milkhaji it is not Bollywood, it is the Indian Film Industry and that too the largest in the world. “The same industry which resurrected you from fading away in oblivion.”

However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Haryana Health and Sports Minister Anil Vij disapproved of the decision. Vij said ‘filmy hero’ will not bring medals for the country. Vij said wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt should have been made the brand ambassador. In a tweet, Vij said “Yogeshwar Dutt forget Salman Khan. You are a real hero, Salman is a filmy hero. Real heroes, not filmy hero will bring medals for the country.” Vij was of the view that IOA should have appointed some renowned Indian sportsman.

Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar saw nothing wrong in Salman Khan’s appointment as Indian contingent’s brand ambassador for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Why not?”, he asked in response to a query on the matter.

Union Minister of State for Sports Sarbananda Sonowal said sentiments of sportspersons who are opposed to Salman Khan’s appointment has been conveyed to the IOA. At the same time, the ministry encourages prominent figures from different walks of life to encourage sports in the country,he said.

Recently Yogeshwar Dutt, an Olympic medalist, had said on social media that the appointment of Salman Khan was not a good decision. Yogeshwar Dutt has brought many laurels for the country in wrestling, he said.

As a debate raged over the appointment, BJP MP and yesteryear actress Hema Malini supported the decision of the Indian Olympic Association(IOA), saying Salman’s popularity is being utilised for a good cause. “People love him so much. So if he is the brand ambassador, what is the problem,” Hema told reporters when asked to comment on Salman’s appointment. Asked about his alleged involvement in the hit-and-run case in Mumbai, she said that episode was a “section of his life…his popularity has to be utilised for a good cause.”

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