Bollywood actor Salman Khan, the Goodwill Ambassador of Olympics has taken off all limelight instead of the 20-odd Rio-bound athlete present on the occasion. A record contingent of 121 athletes, including 54 women, will represent India at Brazil.
“The contingent this time is one third more than last time and this itself proves that Indian athletes are improving. It is not just about winning medals but qualifying to participate in the Olympics itself is a huge thing,” Indian Olympic Association president N Ramachandran said.
On the occasion, various officials including Rajiv Mehta IOA secretary general,Anil Khanna treasurer , Sports Minister Vijay Goel, Sports secretary Rajiv Yadav, SAI DG Injeti Srinivas, Chief-de-Mission Rakesh Gupta and Deputy Chief de Mission Anandeshwar Pandey gathered over there. Moreover, singer AR Rahman was also present along with Salman Khan.
Tennis star Sania Mirza, shuttlers PV Sindu and Kidambi Srikanth, talented wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Babita and Sandeep Tomar, archer Deepa Karmakar and paddler Manika Batra were present on the occasion.
Salman said, “People have a lot of hope from this contingent, I wish you guys all the very best. I am here from Bombay to give you a send-off and respect that you deserve. I know how difficult it is to be a sportsperson and I know it because I couldn’t become one.“I didn’t have that much strength to become a sportsman but you guys have it and that’s why you guys have qualified. Go there and give your best. Please don’t come early.”
It raises a controversy when Salman Khan announced as Goodwill Ambassador for Olympics. Salman and Rahman gave flowers to atheletes there.
“We are sending 121 athletes this time, which is the highest contingent till now. This contingent is one third more than last year’s. We are sending players in 15 disciplines. Players have worked very hard and even the coaches are worked well. We have provided them all the facilities under the vision of Prime Minister which is ‘khelo aur khelne do’,” Sports Minister Goel said.
AR Rahman said, “Once upon a time I thought that it was impossible task for an Indian to get an Oscar or a Grammy but time has proved that it was possible to win and it is a testimony that anything can be achieved “We have very quickly realized for the IOA to be truly independent it must have fund and towards this IOA has done.