Greek athlete’s Olympic dreams halted by racist tweet

Published On July 26, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

Voula Papachristou was slated to compete for Greece as a triple jumper, but the 23-year-old won’t even be making it to the Opening ceremonies all thanks to her Twitter account.

According to a report from USA Today, Papachristou took to Twitter Sunday, attempting to make a joke about African American immigrants and virus-ridden mosquitos. So what did she tweet?

“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”

The athlete had previously retweeted statements seemingly voicing her agreement with a far-right party in Greece called Golden Dawn (which, in the past, has generated controversy by using Nazi symbols), but the West Nile tweet was the final straw, and Papachristou was banned from the Games. The Hellenic Olympic Committee released a statement Wednesday saying Papachristou had been suspended, as her comments went against the values and ideals of the Games.

She posted a lengthy apology in which she called her joke “unfortunate and tasteless.” Papachristou went on say she never wanted to offend anyone or encroach upon human rights, but her apology won’t put her back on Greece’s Olympic team or redirect her path back to London.

Papchristou isn’t the first Olympian to fall victim to the allure of social media. Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk found themselves in hot water after they posted pictures of themselves posing with guns in a U.S. gun shop on Facebook. According to a Deadspin post from early June, the pair will be sent home from London immediately following the conclusion of the swimming program and were banned from social media sites for a month beginning on July 16.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.