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IOA defends its stand, says Salman is ‘biggest Bollywood star’

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New Delhi: After drawing flak for appointing Bollywood actor Salman Khan as the Goodwill Brand Ambassador of the Indian contingent in the Rio Games, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Sunday clarified its stand, saying the former is the ‘biggest Bollywood star’ with ability to draw ‘maximum attention from the masses’.

Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta in a statement said Salman is not going to be the sole face of Indian Olympics contingent, adding they are also in talks with two other big names in music and cricket to popularize Olympic sports.

“This association is only a gesture and does not include any monetary consideration. He is the biggest Bollywood star in the country in terms of mass following and our key objective of bringing him on board is to draw maximum attention from the masses, due to which there will be more eyeballs and viewership which will eventually result in popularizing Olympic sports in the country,” he said.

Mehta said the association may appoint more icons from other walks of life like music, cricket, arts and culture and Olympic sports.

“Mr. Salman Khan is only being appointed from Bollywood segment and we are in talks with two other big names in music and cricket. We are more than willing to have as many icons including the likes of Ms. Anju Bobby George and Ms. PT Usha who have the capacity and capability to popularize Olympic sports in the country,” he added.

Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh earlier joined the bandwagon of sports personalities condemning the Indian Olympic Association’s decision to appoint Salman as the Goodwill Brand Ambassador of the Indian contingent.

Indian men’s hockey team skipper Sardara Singh, however, backed the IOA for selecting Salman as the brand ambassador.

The Bajrangi Bhaijaan actor, whose next film is based on the life of a wrestler, was earlier announced as the brand ambassador of the Indian contingent in Rio by the Indian Olympic Association. (ANI)

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