A name that began dominating news headlines following Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold medal win in javelin throw at Tokyo Olympics was Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem who finished 5th in the event. A photo of Nadeem and Chopra from the 2018 Asian Games went viral earlier, in which the latter won gold and the former won the bronze medal. After the javelin throw competition at the Tokyo Olympics, tweets from accounts claiming to be Arshad Nadeem started popping up on social media. In one of the tweets, there was a newspaper clipping where Neeraj Chopra was quoted as saying, “It would have been nice if Arshad Nadeem was also on the podium, it would have been a great day for Asia.” The clip was shared by a Twitter account named Arshad Nadeem with the caption, “Thank you Neeraj Chopra for these words.” This tweet has garnered more than 59,000 likes and has been retweeted more than 3,800 times.
The Lallantop wrote an article based on this tweet with the headline, “What did Neeraj do that Arshad Nadeem tweeted and said thank you?.” This tweet was also featured by the outlet in one of their videos. “Arshad has thanked Neeraj Chopra for this. While tweeting a newspaper clipping of this news, he wrote, ‘Thank you, Neeraj Chopra, for these words.'”
Hindi daily Amar Ujala uploaded a video on its YouTube channel and wrote, “Tweet by Pakistani javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem for Neeraj.” Journalist Brajesh Rajput of ABP News retweeted the post, writing, “A top sportsman is also the one who has a big heart. Kudos!” Journalist and RSS supporter Rajagopal and Krittivas Mukherjee, Airbus India’s Head of Public Affairs and Communication also retweeted the post.
NDTV’s Mumbai Bureau Chief Saurabh Gupta wrote, “Notable hatemongers on social media are tongue-tied at least on two issues as they can’t even troll given the people involved”. Chinese outlet CGTN journalist Abhishek Bhaya quote-tweeted Gupta’s post and added, “This bonhomie between these two athletes from India and Pakistan must be cherished.” Rama Suganthan, Vice-President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, retweeted, “What will be the reaction of those who spread hatred on this?”
In addition, several prominent personalities and government officials showered praise and congratulations in response to the tweet posted by the handle in Arshad Nadeem’s name. The handle was mentioned in tweets by Pakistan’s Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany Dr Mohammad Faisal, the official handle of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Pakistani journalist Mehreen Zahra Malik, Arab News Pakistan, Pakistani cricketer Faisal Iqbal, the Pakistani Embassy in Turkey, Waqt News, Daily Nawa-e-Waqt, Pakistani MP Hina Parvez among others.
Upon further research into the tweets posted by this account, we came across an old post that read, “Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra and I have qualified for the final round of the men’s javelin throw competition.” However, the Indian athlete pictured with Arshad Nadeem is Shivpal Singh. The fact that Nadeem would snub a fellow athlete with whom he shared the podium in 2018 via this image does not make sense. In response to this tweet, Abdul Ghaffar, head of the Sports section of Pakistani news channel Dawn News, said that the account was fake.
When Alt News examined Ghaffar’s Twitter profile for more information, we found an earlier tweet where he had shared Arshad Nadeem’s official Twitter handle (@Arshadnadeem76). According to this post, Nadeem himself confirmed that he operated this handle. The screenshot accompanying the tweet shows the Edit Profile option, which means that this screenshot was sent by the person who runs the account.
— Abdul Ghaffar (Replay, Dawn News) (@GhaffarDawnNews) August 7, 2021
When we went to this account, we came across a video of Arshad directing users to his official Instagram (@arshadnadeem29) and Twitter handles (@Arshadnadeem26).
However, in the video, Arshad had said ’26’ instead of ’76’, after which he deleted that video and posted a new video with the correct username, @Arshadnadeem76.
The Pakistani athlete also tweeted the same video from his official handle.
Thanks all pic.twitter.com/4xLYJ6WNLu
— Arshad Nadeem (@Arshadnadeem76) August 11, 2021
After the first video was released, the account which had posted the viral tweet (@ArshadNaadeem) changed its Twitter username to @ArshadNadeem26. That’s why links of old tweets posted by this user now redirect to the new handle. This account was claiming to be the real Arshad Nadeem based on the video in which the sportsman mistakenly said 26 instead of 76 while informing followers of his username.
To sum it up, a tweet posted by a fake account posing as Arshad Nadeem was mistakenly circulated as authentic, with several big names falling for the ruse. In reality, Nadeem’s real Twitter handle is @Arshadnadeem76.