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International News

Greek Olympian Ousted for Racist Tweet

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Greek Olympian Ousted for Racist Tweet

2012-07-25 13:55:47

-by Molly C. Braswell, Staff Writer; Image: Voula Papachristou (Image Source: ElComerico.pe)

Let this be a lesson to all: your Twitter posts will come back to haunt you, and an apology may do nothing to reverse the impending punishment.

Voula Papachristou, 23, the triple jumper from Greece, has been expelled from her home Olympic team for posting a statement on July 22, which can be seen as negative or racist, about some of the African immigrants coming to her country.

“With so many Africans in Greece ..” Papachristou said. “At least the mosquitoes of West Nile .. will eat homemade food!”

One person in Athens died from the West Nile virus in June, and five more cases of the disease have been reported in Greece, according to Reuters.

Papachristou has yet to remove the comment from the social media site. The post is also seen as a show of support for the far-right political party.

Papachristou has written an apology on her Facebook and Twitter pages:

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 [on] human rights.

My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.

I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.

Papachristou is the first athlete in history to be banned from an international athletic competition due to a remark made on a social media website.

“She showed no respect for a basic Olympic value and unfortunately she is out,” said Isidoros Kouvelos, head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. “She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes.”

George Pomaski, Papachristou’s coach, disagreed with the harshness of the punishment.

“It’s too much, the penalty should not have been so strict,” he told Reuters. “This is a big disappointment not only for her but for her family and for myself and anyone involved in the Greek team.”

The Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics start Friday.

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