A triple jump Olympic athlete from Greece, Voula Papachristou, was withdrawn from the London Olympics on July 25 after she made an racist comment on her personal Twitter account that talked about African immigrants in Greece. She posted the tweet on July 22 and it said: “With so many Africans in Greece… the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!”
With this post, Papachristou was making a reference to a crisis in Greece caused by a virus from the Nile that has caused one death and at least five infections.
Papachristou’s tweet has caused so much controversy around, that the Greek Federation has not doubted about the reprisal made. The respond was not letting her defend the Greek colors during the Olympic Games.
Isidoros Kouvelos, who is in charge of the Greek delegation, showed his anger on Greek SKAI TV: “She showed no respect for a basic Olympic value and unfortunately she is out. She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes.”
A decision that her coach, George Pomaski, has not understood, and assesses it as harsh, especially for someone that has apologized. “It’s too much, the penalty should not have been so strict,” he told Reuters.
The triple jump athlete showed her repentance on her personal Facebook page, but this has not helped her to achieve forgiveness and compete in London: “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,” she wrote.
The athlete’s comment has caused a lot of controversy on social media, specially in Twitter. Two groups have been made: those that support her and those that agree she should have been expelled from the Olympics.
With the social media being so present in everyone’s life, some coaches, such as Spain soccer national team coach, are advising their athletes to not use social media during competitions in order to avoid these type of problems.