Voula Papachristou, Greece’s triple-jump champion, was barred from competing in the London Olympic Games by the Hellenic Olympic Committee after an offensive tweet on Monday.
She tweeted, “with so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitos will be eating food from their own home.”
The Democratic Left, one of three parties in the Greek government, issued a strong condemnation of Papachristou:
“Racist humor and ”jokes” concerning human lives are not tolerated by the Greek society, can not thrive in Greek athletics. The least the Greek Olympic Committee can do now is to revoke Ms Voula Papachristou from the Olympic Games. Watching the Olympics on TV screen, she could do as many vile ”jokes” she wants through the social media. But for sure, she can not represent Greece in London.”
Papachristou apologized on Wednesday afternoon:
“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.”
But the apology was not enough, as the Hellenic Olympic Committee announced Wednesday afternoon that Papachristou would not travel to London. The committee said she has been “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”