Sachin Tendulkar is lending his support to the Indian Olympic team
Iconic former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was named on Tuesday as one of India’s goodwill ambassadors for the upcoming Rio Olympics following a furore over Bollywood star Salman Khan’s appointment, which was slammed as inappropriate.
Tendulkar said he accepted an offer from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to work alongside Khan, whose appointment triggered a row over whether an actor was best suited to promote sports people.
“I have had the privilege and honour of representing our nation for 25 years and I continue to bat for India off the field,” the master batsman wrote in a letter to IOA chiefs.
“The welfare of sportspersons and encouraging them to give their best is dear to me.”
The IOA named more ambassadors, including ace Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra and Oscar-winning musician AR Rahman, in the days after the controversy over Khan.
Olympic wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt had criticised Khan’s appointment, saying the “Olympics is not a place to promote films”. Indian sprint legend Milkha Singh had urged the government to intervene to overturn the decision.
Khan, who was cleared last year of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run crash, plays a wrestler in his upcoming movie “Sultan”.
The IOA has defended its decision. It says the 50-year-old actor, who currently faces a charge of illegally shooting protected antelope, is popular with young people.
Tendulkar, widely revered in cricket-mad India, played 200 Tests and 463 one-day-internationals, knocking up a record 100 centuries in both formats, before retiring in 2013.