If only Papachristou had kept her Twitter activities to posting pictures like this one... (Photo : Twitter)
A Greek triple jumper now holds the dubious distinction of being the first person barred from the Olympics because of a tweet.
Athens native Paraskevi "Voula" Papachristou, 23, thought she had realized her Olympic dreams, but a tweet widely interpreted as racist will be keeping her off the track.
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On July 22, the athlete tweeted, "So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food."
The next day, she was unconcernedly posting tweets that showed her excitement about the events in London (that is, if Google translator's Greek-to-English feature can be trusted). Somewhere along the way, however, she seemed to realize that she was in for a backlash, and two days of apologetic tweets followed.
Earlier today, she posted a long statement in English: "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."
However, her words are too little, too late. The Hellenic Olympic Committee today released a statement saying, "Following the decision of the Hellenic Delegations' Administration Board, the triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou, is suspended after her comments that go against to the values and ideals of Olympism."
The committee added that Papachristou had not yet arrived in London.
Though the first Olympian to be banned from the games over a social media gaffe, Papachristou is not the first to draw a flap.
In June, Australian swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk created controversy when they posed smiling with guns in a Los Angeles gun store and posted the photos on Twitter and Facebook. As punishment, the Australian Olympic Committee prohibited them from using social media and is sending them home from London as soon as their competitions have been completed.