Greek Athlete Booted From Olympic Team Over Racist Tweets

Triple jumper Voula Papachristou also showed support for a far-right political party.

Posted: 07/25/2012 11:51 AM EDT
Voula Papachristou

Some athletes train for their entire lives with hopes of making it to the Olympic Games, but for one Greek athlete, that dream is over thanks to a poor choice of words funneled out through Twitter.

On Wednesday, the Hellenic Olympic Committee suspended triple jumper Voula Papachristou for "comments that go against to the values ​​and ideals of Olympism." The 23-year-old also showed support for a fascist political regime.

She was not yet in London and had been expected to arrive just before the beginning of the athletic events.


The Associated Press reports:

Papachristou's Twitter account (@papaxristoutj) contains several retweets and postings of YouTube videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, a formerly marginal extreme right party that entered the Greek Parliament in the recent two national elections—in May and June this year—by polling almost 7 percent of the vote.


But it was her attempt at a joke Sunday that went viral. Commenting on the widely reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, Papachristou wrote: "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!" Her tweet prompted thousands of negative comments that snowballed Wednesday.


Though she initially downplayed the incident as a good-natured joke gone sour, Papachristou offered a lengthy apology in English on both her Twitter and Facebook pages on Wednesday. "I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights," she said.

The opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics begin on July 27.


Do you think Voula Papachristou's punishment was fair? Vote in our poll, and leave your comments below.



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(Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, file)


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