The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has gone into damage-control mode. The negative feedback to its decision to appoint Salman Khan as the Indian Olympic contingent’s goodwill ambassador must have come as a nasty surprise. It’s played the percentages well now by asking Sachin Tendulkar and A.R. Rahman to be ambassadors as well. Are there two more widely admired, inoffensive celebrities in India today?
But it’s all a storm in a teacup. Having non-sporting public figures lend their celebrity to a sporting event is nothing new. If it boosts interest, so much the better.
The real problem is that athletes are often poorly served by IOA. Ensuring a corruption-free IOA that works effectively with and for athletes, and is not merely a sinecure for politicians—India’s three representatives being unable to play under the national flag at the Sochi winter Olympics in 2014 was perhaps the lowest point—is what truly matters.