Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's appointment as goodwill ambassador of the Indian Olympic contingent triggered a furore with star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh questioning the move even as IOA and some other athletes backed the decision.
Salman, who is playing the role of a wrestler in his upcoming film 'Sultan', was named goodwill ambassador by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Saturday in the presence of star woman boxer M.C. Mary Kom, hockey captain Sardar Singh and shooter Apurvi Chandela among others.
The position itself is unprecedented and IOA's decision to pick Salman for it left the sporting fraternity divided with London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar and the legendary Milkha leading the criticism.
The IOA, however, backed the decision to name Salman.
"When celebrities who appeal to public come forward to help naturally we get more publicity which is good for sports. Trend among the youth is that they look towards such film celebrities. If we utilise them there's no harm," IOA Vice President Tarlochan Singh said.
"We're getting his (Salman Khan) help and not giving him anything. IOA is not paying him a penny," he added.
Earlier, Yogeshwar said Salman has done nothing to merit such an appointment.
"Everybody has the right to promote movies in India, but Olympics is not a place to promote films," Yogeshwar tweeted in Hindi.
"Can anyone tell me what is the role of goodwill ambassador? Why are you fooling the public?" he added.
The 33-year-old felt a sportsperson would have been more apt for the position.
"Sportspersons like P.T Usha and Milkha Singh strived hard for the nation during difficult times. But what has this ambassador done in sports.
"What will happen by the appointment of an ambassador? If you had to do this drama, then why not appoint a sportsperson?" he asked.
"The country needs medals, not sponsors."
Milkha too felt that the IOA has taken a wrong decision and should reconsider the move.
"India has produced so many sportspersons who have given their sweat and blood for the country like P.T Usha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ajit Pal and so many others. One of these could have been made a goodwill ambassador. What was the need to import a person from Bollywood?" he asked.