Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off the country’s Olympic team after she posted a racist message on her Twitter account.
In response to news of an outbreak of West Nile virus in Greece, Papachristou posted a tweet in which she said, “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!”
Papachristou initially responded to criticism by saying she was joking, but soon apologized for the Tweet. In a follow-up, Papachristou said, “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.”
Papachristou added that because she respected Olympic values, she “could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.”
The damage was done, however, and the Greek Olympic Committee removed her from the team.
“She showed no respect for a basic Olympic value and unfortunately she is out,” mission chief Isidoros Kouvelos told SKAI TV. “She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes.”
Papachristou’s coach, George Pomaski, told Reuters that the “penalty should not have been so strict,” and called the decision a “big disappointment.”
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