Triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off Greece’s Olympic team Wednesday for her comments on Twitter, which mocked African immigrants and expressed support for an extremely far-right political party.
Papachristou’s Twitter account contained several retweets, links to sites, and YouTube videos promoting the views of the Golden Dawn, which is an extreme right party that entered the Greek Parliament in the two recent elections. Those tweets have since been erased.
But her attempt on a joke is what gained the most attention, and caused outrage. She was commenting on the reported sitings of virus carrying Nile mosquitoes in Athens.
“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”
Thousands replied to the tweet negatively.
Papachristou, at first was unapologetic on Tuesday, saying:
“That’s how I am. I laugh. I am not a CD to get stuck!!! And if I make mistakes, I don’t press the replay! I press Play and move on!!!”
However; her attitude changed soon after on Wednesday as she posted six tweets apologizing within two hours.
According to the Associated Press, the decision to ban the triple-jumper from the team is irreversible, and Papachritou has been informed of that. Furthermore, all Greek Olympic athletes have been banned from using any form of social media during the Olympic games.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said Papachristou is:
“Placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
Isidoros Kouvelos, head of Greece’s Olympic mission, said:
“We are not here just to get medals, but to promote the Olympic ideals, to show our character.”
Tassos Papachristou (no relation to the triple-jumper), Hellenic Committe Spokesperson said on the matter:
“What we did after this is was to ban all statements on social media (such as) Twitter and Facebook, that are not related to the games. They can’t express personal opinions on other, third subjects, but only about themselves, their athletic condition, if they’re on form, or about the games, until the games are over.”