New Delhi, Apr 25 (PTI) Bollywood star Salman Khan’s appointment as goodwill ambassador of India’s contingent for the upcoming Rio Olympics drew mixed responses today even as noted scriptwriter Salim Khan defended his son. 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. However, another 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.

Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar saw nothing wrong in Salman’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’s appointment has been conveyed to the IOA. At the same time, the ministry encourages prominent figures from different walks of life to encougrage sports in the country,he said.

“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.” 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. (ALSO READ: Salman Khan as Rio Olympics Ambassador: Father Salim Khan defends IOA’s move; hits out at Milkha Singh!)

50-year-old 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 over a sportsperson. 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.”

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.”

Recently Yogeshwar Dutt, an Olympic medalist, had said in social media that the appointment of Salman was not a good decision.
Vij was of the view that IOA should have appointed some renowned Indian sportsman.
Yogeshwar Dutt has brought many laurels for the country in wrestling, he said.