Asian Games 2023: Did Chinese Officials Try To 'Cheat' With Indian Javelin Star Neeraj Chopra?

Neeraj Chopra had comfortably cleared the 85m mark with his first attempt but to his surprise the effort was not recorded by the officials at Asian Games 2023.

Indian javelin star Neeraj Chopra in Asian Games 2023 action

A huge controversy erupted during Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra's javelin throw event at the Asian Games when his first attempt was not measured, prompting legendary Anju Bobby George to accuse the Chinese officials of "trying to cheat" and "deliberately targeting the Indians". It seemed Chopra had comfortably cleared the 85m mark but to his surprise the effort was not recorded by the officials and he was not given any reason for that. "I don't know why they did not measure my first throw. Just after me, the second and third competitors had their throws and their distance were measured. I kept on asking what happened to my first throw," Chopra told reporters after winning gold medal on his fourth attempt. (Medal Tally | Schedule | Full Coverage | Sports News)

"I was puzzled and confused, it has never happened in any competition I have competed in till now. I think they lost my landing mark and they kept on looking for it." Kishore Jena, who joined Chopra on the podium with his silver-winning effort, also had his second throw invalidated for crossing the line but the decision was later reversed.

Anju Bobby George, the senior vice president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) accused the officials of deliberately targeting the Indians.

"They are trying to cheat us and trying to disturb our athletes. Neeraj's first throw was a very good throw and it was a kind of disturbance. We called Neeraj to protest there itself. Jena's throw also called foul when he was one foot behind the line," the legendary long jumper alleged.

Anju reckons that winning in China is difficult as their officials are always up for some "mischief" and disturb the athletes.

"Winning in China is very difficult so though we are best runner, thrower, jumper they will do all such mischief and disturb our athletes." Asked if the officials gave any reason for not measuring his first throw, Chopra said, "One of the officials said the second athlete after me had taken his throw quickly. It was a bizarre situation." "I am told that it was a very good throw, probably 87-88m. Mentally you feel relieved if your first throw is very good. Later they told me I will be given another throw for the first attempt." A perfect gentleman he is, Chopra agreed to it.

"I did not have any other means, I thought there was no point arguing for long. I also thought it's affecting the competition of other competitors. The other competitors were waiting and I need to respect them also. The wind was blowing and everybody was feeling cold. So, I thought I will take the throw later.

"Rule says only six throws, but for the first time I got seven throws in a competition," he said with a laugh.

Chopra's next attempt measured 82.38m. Jena, the second Indian in the fray, was leading at the halfway mark of three throws. But Chopra came up with a season's best throw of 88.8m in his fourth attempt to win the gold.

Jena won the silver with his fourth round throw of 87.54m. Jena booked 2024 Olympics spot, for which the qualifying mark is 85.50m.

Chopra cited several other instances of alleged "cheating", including the red-carding of 100m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji for false start before her medal was upgraded from bronze to silver, and not measuring of Annu Rani's throw.

"I felt bad that my first throw in such a big competition went like that. Jyothi ki saath bhi aisa huwa, mere saath garbar huwa hey. Jena ka ek throw mey bhi huwa. So there were issues, but finally, I would say our results were good. Despite whatever has been done, we have shown that we came prepared.

"Our team should certainly look into why there are so many issues we are facing, I have never seen these kinds of things in big competitions. I or some other athlete could have been mentally down after the first throw. Anything could happen. Jyothi also fought," he said.

Anju also alleged that Chinese officials are deliberately targeting the Indian athletes.

"This is Asian Games not a small National Championship. I don't know why they are doing this and especially they are targeting Indians. It was deliberate." She even felt that one of long jumper M Sreeshankar's jumps wasn't accurately measured.

"I doubt it was not 8.19m. It was much better than that and one of them raised the red flag. It was not a foul I guess."