Don’t blame Salman Khan. Blame the Indian Olympic Association for their idiocy in selecting him as the brand ambassador for the Indian contingent to Rio. Just hope he is savvy enough to be embarrassed….writes Bikram Vohra

Suhel Seth with Salman Khan
Suhel Seth with Salman Khan

While the logic of it defies explanation, what the IOA has managed to do is trivialise Indian sport and sportspersons in one go despite being its custodian…or so one would think. Like there is no one out there in any discipline worthy of lofting the banner, so let’s get a film star to do it. Seeing how Salman’s sporting career is dubious at best, one is hard pressed to understand how he made the cut.

Did these officials sit around a green baize table sipping bottled water and coming up with this absurd choice and then patting each other on the back at their own brilliance? Have they never heard of Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Mary Kom, Milkha Singh, Abhinav Bindra,Vishwanathan Anand, Prakash Padukone or a host of others who would lead with pride, and a right to do so which each one of them has earned?

What was the motivation behind choosing Salman? Did they think that more Indians would be energised into tuning in or reading about the Olympics because Salman was there? Perhaps they thought we needed the glamour because the men and women who have sweated their guts out in training aren’t magnetic enough to be a draw.

It’s reducing the stalwarts to the levels of inane cheergirls (again, not their fault) who jump up and down at IPLmatches though not one person is able to explain what exactly their role is in enhancing the cricketing pleasure. (Psst, not a single dark skinned person) Racist? Who us? Never.

I think it would be very gracious of Salman Khan to refuse the offer and pass it on to someone more deserving. We don’t watch sport to see film stars. We watch sport to see human excellence and the triumph of mankind over the spirit and the body, for they strive to seek, to find and not to yield.

There is no need for film stars to usurp this honour and it is hurtful to true fans that they are held in such contempt, that the IOA thinks the only way to drag him into the mix is by loading the hook with a Bollywood bait.

The Olympic committee should be brought to heel and asked to show cause why their self-indulgence should not be seen as a criminal neglect of duty and an insult to Indian sport per se. Each of the members should be asked to give reasons why this committee should not be disbanded for making a mockery of the responsibilities entrusted to them.

The attitude is one of arrogance and misplaced confidence. The sheer idea that Salman Khan’s presence will strategically promote the Olympics in India is laughable. What is he going to do? Put on the gloves? Run the marathon? Lift 200 kgs? It is pitiful how officials in India assume that everyone in the country has a two-digit IQ and has to be treated like an idiot.

Come on, Salman, refuse the offer. You don’t need the flak.



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