Greek Olympian Banned For Racist Tweet Thinks Her Punishment Was Excessive

    July 27, 2012
    Josh Wolford

Voula Papachristou, the Greek triple-jumper whose distasteful tweets earned her a swift exit from this year’s Olympic games, thinks that she was treated unfairly.

Earlier this week, Papachristou was expelled from competing at the London games for tweeting this to her 9,000 followers:

With so many Africans in Greece … at least the West Nile mosquitos will eat homemade food!!!

That tweet drew the attention of the Greek Olympic Committee, who promptly dismissed Papachristou from the national team. She issued a lengthy apology (in English) via Twitter, but it was too late to save her position on the squad.

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.

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.

Now, Papachristou is speaking out. According to her, the committee’s actions were both rash and harsh.

“After so many years of hurt and sacrifices to try and get to my first Olympics I am very bitter and upset. But what has upset me the most is the excessive reaction and speed of the disciplinary decision,” she said. “”I don’t know if they want to make an example out of me because of my profile, this is for others to judge, but what I believe is that they used their maximum disciplinary power on me for this. They went straight to the final stage in excluding me from the team, which was highly excessive.”

Social media has been the downfall of many athletes. Papachristou isn’t the first, and she won’t be the last. Whether or not she deserved to be banned outright from participation is up for debate, but it remains as a cautionary tale for anyone that uses Twitter. No matter who you are, and no matter how hard you worked for something, a couple keystrokes can ruin everything in a flash.

Chalk it up to the perils of social media.

[via The Guardian]