Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was recently barred from competing in this year’s Olympic Games because of an offensive “joke” she sent about Africans in Greece.
On Monday, Papachristou told her Twitter followers, “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitos will be eating food from their own home.”
The tasteless tweet immediately caused a firestorm of criticism causing the Hellenic Olympic Committee to revoke Papachristou’s bid for Olympic gold. The Greek committee replaced the jumper, saying her comment was “outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
Papachristou issued an apology for her tweet, telling fans she was “ashamed.”
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
While I’m not sure Papachristou’s tweet was horrible enough to warrant being barred from the Olympics, this is yet another lesson for all of us to be careful what we say on social media. Someone is always watching.