Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has jumped into the fray to explain what sportsmanship is about as field and track athlete Neeraj Chopra’s remarks about Pakistani athlete Arshad Nadeem created a sort of commotion in India.
“An issue is being made over #NeerajChopra (regarding Arshad Nadeem),” the Indian wrestler said.
“Athletes are athletes regardless of their nationality. We’re opponents on the ground but brothers outside. Sports don’t teach us to harbour malice; teaches us to unite and not divide: Wrestler #BajrangPunia.”
Neeraj Chopra had expressed good wishes for fellow athlete Arshad Nadeem from Pakistan but his amiable comments did not go down well with the hardline media. However, the Indian athlete received backing from Bajrang Punia.
Neeraj unwittingly triggered a controversy when he related a story about the fellow athlete Arshad Nadeem in the final of the javelin throw competition. The Indian media started slamming Pakistani athlete Arshad Nadeem for his treatment of Neeraj Chopra.
But, Bajrang, coming to rescue Chopra, said that athletes deserve respect, regardless of which country they belong to.
“Whether the athlete is from Pakistan or any other country, he represents his nation. He is a sportsperson first,” Bajrangwas quoted as saying by the Indian media.
“So it’s not like we’ll say something against that person because he is from Pakistan. There should be respect for athletes,” wrestler Bajrang was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem are on very good terms as they have been participating in track and field events for the past few years. Seeing things are ballooning out of proportion about Neeraj’s comments, the Pakistani player also tried some firefighting calling upon hate-mongers to take a backseat.
“Neeraj bhai ne bilkul theek Kahan hai. Ham dono bohat ache dost hain (Neeraj brother has put it rightly that we both are very good friends)” said Arshad.
“Aur aisi cheezen nahi honi chahiye (And such things shouldn’t be allowed to happen”).
Taking to the microblogging site Twitter, Neeraj said: “I would request everyone to please not use me as a medium to further your vested interest and propaganda.”
“Sports teaches us to be together and united. I’m extremely disappointed to see some of my reactions from the public on my recent comment,” he added.