Shrugging off controversy over being part of the Olympic torch rally as brand ambassador for the Lenovo group, Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan says while he favours the Tibetan cause, the world of sports and politics should ideally be kept apart.
"My reasons for running are to honour my commitments as brand ambassador for the Lenovo group, one of the sponsors of the Olympics," said Saif, who is among those carrying the torch on Thursday in the capital.
"Maybe I'm being idealistic. But we have issues with Pakistan over Kashmir, and we still play cricket with them. It's good that the cause of Tibet is highlighted, but in a perfect world sport and politics would remain separate. The Dalai Lama himself has said he is supporting the Olympics."
A number of the country's celebrities from sports and films, including Saif's sister Soha Ali Khan, have pulled out of the Indian leg of the globe trotting ritual.
"It's a personal issue. My sister, for example, is not supporting this and I respect her decision."
After last year's health scare when Saif was admitted to hospital with chest pains, the performer is making an effort to stay fit.
"It was almost a heart attack, caused by exertion from dancing," Saif asserted. "I used to smoke a lot, but then quit," added the actor who impressed in his recent release Race.
He also puts down his newfound healthy living to "a bit of Kareena Kapoor's influence".
And how has the "Race" star been staying in shape before the relay?
"I did about 45 minutes on the treadmill, running between 6 and 9 km an hour."
With two thumbs up, the actor signs off by giving his support to the Indian competitors at the 2008 Summer Olympics, "I'd like to wish all of our sports stars all the best."
(Steven Baker is the Editor of Indian Cinema International. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)