Remember yesterday, how we said the Olympics are all about togetherness and people of all stripes putting aside their differences and forming one great brotherhood of man (for whatever that means) and stuff? Well, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou – how to put this – fell a tad short of this ideal. Papachristou was set to represent her country in London… but then on Monday, she tweeted something that essentially translates to:
“So many Africans in #Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food”
When you’re finished facepalming, just know that Papachristou’s tweet earned her an Olympic ban at the hands of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (which sounds like an organization that should be headed by Zeus Himself). And also know that that West Nile tweet wasn’t the only Papachristou Twitter conduct to make the committee uneasy:
Papachristou’s Twitter account contains several retweets and postings of YouTube videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, a formerly marginal extreme right party that entered the Greek Parliament in the recent two national elections — in May and June this year — by polling almost 7 percent of the vote.
“Extreme right” is one way to describe the Golden Dawn. Another popular descriptor: neo-Nazi. When you’re finished facepalming, know that Papachristou did issue an apology for her unfortunate comments:
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.
Needless to say between the “making fun of the number of Africans in her home country” and “tacit endorsement of Neo-Nazi party” incidents, the apology rings a bit hollow. Let this be another lesson to athletes everywhere, not just Greece: be careful what you do on Twitter. And figuring out social media when you’re an accomplished athlete isn’t really all that hard. Post pictures of yourselves on Segways? Everyone loves you. Align yourselves with neo-Nazis? People don’t like you so much. Seems simple to us, really.