Olympic athlete Voula Papachristo expelled from Games for Twitter comment

25 Jul 2012

Olympic triple jumper Voula Papachristo has been expelled from taking part in the Games for a Twitter comment about African immigrants and supposed support for a far-right party.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee ousted Papachristo (23) from taking part in the London 2012 Olympics, which kick off on Friday.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee said in a statement today that Papachristou has been “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”

Papachristo had posted a tweet on 22 July that read, “So many Africans in Greece … at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!!!”

West Nile virus is a potentially fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes of African origin. The virus has reportedly been present in Athens this summer, The San Jose Mercury News reported.

She had also re-tweeted a comment from Ilias Kasidiaris, a politician with Golden Dawn, criticising Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ stance on immigration. In response, other Twitter users accused her of being a ‘Nazi’ and supporter of the party.

Voula Papachristo’s apology

Papachristo later apologised for the comments on Twitter and Facebook.

“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,” Papachristo wrote.

“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.”

The International Olympic Committee has guidelines on athletes’ use of social media, for instance, all participants’ social media activity will have to respect the Olympic Charter and be in good taste, and no commercial or advertising promotions will be allowed, particularly in reference to non-sponsors.

The London 2012 Olympics was to have been the first time Papachristou ever competed in the Olympics.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic