Greek champion triple jumper, Voula Papachristou, has become the first athlete banned from competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games for posting racist and offensive comments on Twitter. All the 14’000 athletes from 205 countries who will participate in the Olympic Games have now been reminded to keep their tweets “in a tasteful manner” or risk breaching their athlete team agreements, which allow for expulsion from the Games.
Papachristou, a supporter of the far-right political party ”Golden Dawn”, posted the offensive tweet two days ago, which she now claims was a joke.
The tweet said: “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!”
But the Hellenic Olympic Committee came under pressure from within Greece to take action against 23-year-old Papachristou, who had also publicly supported the ”Golden Dawn” politician Ilias Kasidiaris, when he criticised Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s immigration position.
She had previously retweeted promotional videos from the political party, which gained seven per cent of the vote in the recent Greek elections held in june.
The head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Isidoros Kouvelos, said Papachristou had “showed no respect for the basic Olympian value” in her latest tweet.
“She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes,” he told Skai TV.
Papachristou took to social media sites Facebook and Twitter to apologise for the “unfortunate and tasteless joke”, adding she was sorry and ashamed for the negative responses, especially to her family and coach George Pomaski.
“I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights,” she said.
Papachristou said she dreamt of doing well in London and argued that she respected the Olympic values and apologised to friends and athletes whom she may have insulted.
“My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values,” she said. “Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.”
Pomaski said the expulsion from the Olympic team was harsh and out of proportion, especially as she had apologised.
The Olympic Charter says that everyone should be able to play sport without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.