A flash mob dance by SL Airport Staff to welcome IMF officials? Find out the facts…

Misleading Social

We often encounter situations where misattributed photos and videos get viral, especially since these are targeted toward some officials or public institutions. Unfortunately, even though these are posted for entertainment purposes, the subjects often get ridiculed by the public.

Let’s look at the facts behind such a video posted in a satirical manner claiming to be the scene of Sri Lanka’s Airport officials welcoming IMF officials to the country with a flash mob dance.

Social Media Posts:

A video circulated on social media with a sarcastic angle saying, “That’s definitely a very warm unforgettable welcome for IMF officials.”

In that video, the Bandaranaike International Airport(BIA) staff are seen performing a Flash Mob Dance to welcome a dignitary, seemingly of Chinese origins, when he arrives in Sri Lanka. This Video Caption indicated that the visiting dignitary was an official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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This video with the above theme in the Sinhala language was widely circulated among Facebook users.

Did the BIA staff actually perform a flash mob dance for a group of IMF officials? Else what is the factual background of this video?

Fact Check:

First, we observed some recent incidents of IMF officials visiting Sri Lanka to ascertain whether any such dance welcomes were arranged.

Past Incidents of IMF officials visiting Sri Lanka

A team of International Monetary Fund officials headed by Ms. Manuela Goretti arrived in Colombo during September 10-25-2019, to review Sri Lanka’s economic reform program. Another IMF team visited Colombo between January – February 2020 and December 2021 and June 2022. But we did not notice footage of the Bandaranaike International Airport staff performing Flash Mob Dances to welcome these officials in any mainstream or on social media.

Original video from 2019 – The inauguration of Thai Air Operations

We analyzed the frames of the viral video and noticed two photographs of former President Maithreepala Sirisena and, at that time, PM Ranil Wickremasinghe in the background at the airport premises. This indicates that this video was probably filmed during the previous regime, before August 2019.

We did a reverse image search of the keyframes of the video. We found a description of the original event dating back to 2019, posted on several media channels.

Below is the Facebook video post from the Bandaranaike International Airport, which states that this “Flash Mob” dance was organized to welcome the inaugural flight of Thai Lion Air, which commenced on 30th January 2019. The performance by the staff of Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited.

Here is how ‘Times Online’ reported the incident, and Sri Lankan journalist Azam Amin also posted the same on his Twitter handle.

Accordingly, this scene is not a dance performed by the Bandaranaike International Airport employees to welcome any International Monetary Fund officials.

We also noticed that airport staff from other countries had also performed Flash Mob Dance on various occasions at various airports. You can reach these reports here, here, here, and here

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Our investigation shows that the video posted on social media purporting to be a dance performed by Bandaranaike International Airport staff to welcome International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials was actually footage from January 2019 when the team of Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) performed a “flash mob” dance at the Bandaranaike International Airport to welcome inaugural flight of Thai Lion Air.


Title:A flash mob dance by SL Airport Staff to welcome IMF officials? Find out the facts…

Fact Check By: Pavithra Sandamali 

Result: Misleading

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