This is exactly what happened to triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who was kicked off Greece’s Olympic team Wednesday following her comments on Twitter making fun of Africans, and expressing support for a far-right party.
The Greek Olympic committee confirmed Wednesday that Papachristou had been “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
Papachristou has not responded to being kicked off the team.
Papachristou’s Twitter name, @papaxristoutj, is filled with retweets and promotions of Golden Dawn, an extreme right wing party that emerged in the Greek Parliament in the national elections.
But it wasn’t her support for Golden Dawn that got her expelled from the Olympic team. It was her joke about the reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, Papachristou wrote: “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”. Her tweet prompted thousands of negative reactions on Twitter and elsewhere.
And Papachristou didn’t do herself any favors with largely dismissive reaction to the controversy: “That’s how I am. I laugh. I am not a CD to get stuck!!! And if I make mistakes, I don’t press the replay! I press Play and move on!!!”
She later responded with a much more earnest apology: “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.”
Before her last tweet, a liberal Greek Party called the Democratic Left encouraged her expulsion from the Olympics, saying “Let her make any miserable ‘jokes’ on social media while watching the games on TV. She definitely cannot represent Greece in London.”