Jul 26, 2012

2012 Olympics: Greece’s Papachristou is Out

Twitter lets people say what’s on their mind quickly in 140 characters. There have been many times that controversial tweets were posted on the site that made some buzz online. Adding to the list is Voula Papachristou, a Greek triple jumper. The 23-year old athlete tweeted about the growing number of African immigrants in her country, which a lot of people found racist. Here’s what Papachristou posted on her Twitter account:

@papaxristoutj: With so many Africans in Greece … at least the West Nile mosquitos will eat homemade food!!!” Aside from this, she posted a comment made by Ilias Kasidiaris, a Greek politician, regarding the lenient policy of the country’s government when it comes to immigration.

Voula Papachristou

Reaction and Apologies

Papachristou’s post received comments and responses from several people who were offended by her tweet. She didn’t reply immediately to any of them until after a few days. She issued an apology on her account telling that she didn’t mean to offend anyone. Here’s the exact tweet she posted:

“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.”

The controversial post reached the Hellenic Olympic Committee, who deliberated the issue and even consulted with some of the members of the Parliament of their country.  The said committee is the Olympics Federation of Greece. The verdict, Papachristou was removed from Greece’s Olympic team. She was preparing in Athens to compete for the London Olympics 2012 and was about to go there in a week to represent the country when the decision to evict her from the team was made.

Reason for Removing Papachristou from the Team

Aside from the racial issues on the tweet, the committee didn’t want any problems with the anti-racism groups that may show their protests on the game, if Papachristou was still in their team. The sponsors for the country’s team for the Olympics may not like this and may cost them their support. Because of the financial challenges that the economy of the country had been facing, corporate sponsors made possible the funding for Greece’s Olympics team. According to the official statement released by the Committee, Papachristou was removed from the Olympics team of Greece because of her tweets, which opposed the Olympic movement’s ideas and values.

Papachristou may have been sorry for her remarks but it was too late. It already cost her the chance to join in the biggest sports competition of the year. The Olympics is considered the biggest event for athletes. This is what every sportsman dreams of as it serves as the pinnacle of their career. Joining the Olympics does not only give them the chance to be known in their field of sports, but most importantly, they will be able to represent their country and bring pride and glory to their nation. Words when written or spoken cannot be taken back. So everyone must be careful with what they say or write, especially on popular sites like Twitter, as this may backfire on them. 

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