We’re just days away from the start of the 2012 Olympic games in London. This will be the first time that social media is playing an active role. That means the Olympic jocks must govern themselves accordingly not only in London but with their actions across cyberspace. A lesson Greece’s Triple jumper Voula Papachristou learned the hard way.
Papachristou was removed from Greece’s Olympic team Wednesday for her comments on Twitter mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right party.
In what was meant to be a joke, Papachristou tweeted on Sunday about the reported appearance of West Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens: “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”
Papachristou’s initial reaction to the negative comments, on Tuesday, was to tweet: “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!!!”
Her attitude changed on Wednesday- probably once she realized the severity of her statements and what the possible repercussions could be – she posted five apologetic tweets.
The last tweet, a very long one in English, was also posted on her Facebook account, “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.”
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Papachristou is “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
“Let her make any miserable ‘jokes’ on social media while watching the games on TV. She definitely cannot represent Greece in London,” the Democratic Left statement said.
All that hard work destroyed with one Tweet.