Two days ago, a news clipping of Indian Olympic javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s interview started to go viral on social media. In an interview with Time of India, Chopra said, “ “I was searching for my javelin at the start of the final (in Olympics). I was not able to find it. Suddenly, I saw Arshad Nadeem was moving around with my javelin. Then I told him, ‘Bhai give this javelin to me, it is my javelin! I have to throw it’. He gave it back to me. That’s why you must have seen I took my first throw hurriedly”.
Arshad Nadeem is Pakistan’s Olympic javelin thrower. This interview was taken just a few days after Chopra won gold at the Olympics. This quote was then posted by various news media outlets and verified twitter accounts, some of whom are followed by PM Modi. The claim made by them was that Arshad Nadeem was probably tampering with Chopra’s javelin before his throw. These accounts also seemed to accuse Nadeem of engaging in a plan to tamper with India’s chances of getting a gold.
The tweets quickly took on a more xenophobic nature onl because Nadeem is from Pakistan and both India and Pakistan have histrocally had strained ties.
This incident was quickly reported by several right wing news media outlets such as Swarajya Magazine , Zee News and OpIndia. Several people with verified accounts also amplified this such as Ashoke Pandit, Soumyadipta, Anshul Saxena, Varada Marathe, Arun Pudur and Vikas Pandey.
Neeraj Chopra calls out the propaganda:
Owing to the massive amounts of tags and comments on Neeraj Chopra’s personal accounts, Chopra eventually had to post a video clarifying his statement and to express his disappointment about how the quote was twisted to show Arshan Nadeem as some sort of a villain.
“We can use our personal javelin during the competition. However, every thrower can also use the javelin and that is the rule. There is nothing wrong with it and he (Nadeem) was preparing with my javelin. I asked for the javelin for my throw and it’s not a big deal. I am very sad that this is being blown out of proportion. I request everyone to not do this. Sports teaches us to be united and all of us javelin throwers are very friendly and cordial with each other. Please don’t say anything which hurts us,” Chopra said in the video.
He further calls out the unnecessary propaganda spread by news media and individuals regarding this incident therefore putting an end to a false narrative created by right wing media. Therefore, this claim is misleading and false.