Athlete Voula Papahristou was excluded from the Greek Olympic team after racist comments published in her personal profile on Twitter. Her status on Twitter, which cost her the participation in the Olympic Games in London this summer, reads: "With so many Africans in Greece... At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food".
The comment was posted on 22 July, but Olympic supporters spotted it as late as 25 July. It caused serious public reactions and The Hellenic Olympic Committee did not hesitate to take a quick solution for her exclusion. "With a decision of the Greek delegation at the Olympic Games in London, triple jumper Paraskevi Papahristou is excluded from the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement", says the official statement, which announced that the Greek Olympic team is dropping her.
Voula is known as a devout supporter of the racialist party Golden Dawn and she doesn't hide it. The athlete had sent kind wishes to its spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, for his birthday a few days earlier. Kasidiaris's name made much noise when he lost his temper in a TV programme. While on air, he beat his interlocutress on a TV panel, Liana Kannelli, who is the representative of the Greek Communist Party and is popular with her provocative behaviour.
After the first reactions, 23-year-old Voula remains calm and convinced in her right to express her opinion: "All that is happening doesn’t concern me. I am an athlete and nothing else. I am not used to offending anybody … I am not keen on ideologies", she tweeted on Tuesday morning in her profile. After it became clear that what she said is in direct contravention of the Olympic morality and the comment has affected a central nerve, the athlete became softer. She posted several apologetic messages, the last written in English, so that it can be read by the international community as well.
"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", writes in apology the athlete. Meanwhile, CNN, BBC, Huffington Post and many other international media had already spread the news.
The story with Voula Papahristou caused storms of reactions in the social media. Thousands of "pros and cons" comments were written on Facebook and Twitter regarding her position and the response of the Greek Olympic Committee. Some people in social networks voice the opinion that the punishment is too strict for her thoughtless comment:
Others are adamant that tasteless jokes can not be tolerated by the Olympics:
Voula's boyfriend, Leftheris Hahamidis who is a kickboxing fighter, was categorical, that the athlete's joke cannot be a serious cause for her exclusion from the Olympic Games. To the people who think Papahrisotu is a racist, he told Star TV that "they should be ashamed. At this moment, Voula is wearing the national emblem. She will represent the country at the Olympics. We believe that she will not only come inthe first eight in her category, but she is able to win a medal. At this point, with the decision they took not only did they do harm to Voula herself, but to Greece as well." Comments from all over the world continue flooding the social networks. They are diverse, contradictory, abusive, supportive, tolerant, or simply irrelevant. Some users are including the idea of the global conspiracy against Greece, others are seeing the intervention of the illuminati, or are just wishing that next time Voula think twice before writing something that the whole world will see. After the announcement of the Hellenic Olympic Committee's decision Voula's phone is still off and she cannot be reached for comment. Many of her Facebook followers are wishing her to leave inappropriate comments and to present herself in a fitting manner for the next Olympic Games in 2016.
Tags: Sports Olympics 2012 London Voula Papahristou Golden Dawn racism
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