Sympathy swells for Olympic Papachristou expelled for ''racist" tweet
Greek triple jumper champion Voula Papachristou’s expulsion from the London Olympics 2012 for posting racist and offensive comments about Africans on Twitter, has angered her supporters in Greece.
“With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!” ABC News quoted Papachristou, as tweeting.
Papachristou, a supporter of the far-right political party Golden Dawn, who posted the offensive tweet two days ago, claimed that it was ‘just a joke’.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee reportedly came under pressure to take action against 23-year-old Papachristou, and expelled her citing "comments that go against the values and ideals of Olympism."
The head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Isidoros Kouvelos, said that Papachristou had “showed no respect for the basic Olympian value” in her latest tweet.
However, the expulsion was slammed by supporters in Greece and abroad, who flocked to social-networking sites to defend Papachristou, who finished 11th in June''s European championships in Helsinki with a 13.89-meter jump, but did not reach the 2011 world championship final.
Papachristou also took to social media sites Facebook and Twitter to apologise for the “unfortunate and tasteless joke”, adding that she was sorry and ashamed for the negative responses, especially to her family and coach George Pomaski.
“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,” she admitted.
Papachristou''s coach claimed that the expulsion was an ‘overreaction’, especially considering Papachristou''s apology.
While many argued that the tweet was misinterpreted or simply not offensive, others said Papachristou should be forgiven because she has apologized for her mistake.
Papachristou''s apology quickly garnered more than 800 "likes", while Facebook groups demanded for her reinstatement in the team.