New Delhi, Apr 15: The newly appointed sports Minister MS Gill has opposed the idea of inviting politicians and film stars to carry the Olympic torch during its run in India.
Gill, who feels the occasion should be exclusively for sportspersons, wants former athletes with distinguished careers and budding sportspersons to be invited to carry the torch.
"VIPs, ministers, politicians or people from the entertainment industry have little right to carry the torch. It belongs to sportspersons," says Gill.
"The Olympic torch should be carried by 'real' athletes like Milkha Singh and PT Usha and a group of 20 young sportspersons selected from across the country," the minister added.
Film stars and celebrities are attractions used in different countries to gather crowds but purists have always frowned upon the idea. On using glamorous add-ons, purists express their grouse that while they pull in crowds, they turn attention away from the real purpose by putting the spotlight on themselves.
On the Indian Olympic Association's offer to participate in the torch relay, Gill said he had politely refused. "I do not think I should participate in the run. It is an exclusive right of sportspersons," he said.
Gill clarified that he would participate in the event as the country's sports minister. "I will be there as Sports Minister either at the starting point or at the finishing line of the torch relay," he said.