Greece expels Olympian for controversial tweets

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On Wednesday, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Olympic team after a series of tweets mocking African immigrants and endorsing Golden Dawn, a far right party political party.

The Hellenic Olympic committee told the Associated Press that Papachristou was excluded from the games “for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”

The primary controversial tweet, a comment on the appearance of West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens read, “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitos will be getting home food!”

The tweet prompted a sea of negative comments.

She also retweeted several tweets by Golden Dawn spokesman Illias Kasidiaris, who struck a female Communist MP and threw water at another female MP on a TV talk show.

As a result of the tweets, Papachristou was banned from the games. The committee also banned other Greek Olympic athletes from expressing personal opinions on their social media profiles — on subjects not related to the Olympics — until the games are over.

On Wednesday, Papachristou issued an apology on Twitter, writing, “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.”

The apology did not help her case. The decision to ban her from the games was irreversible.

Greece’s Track and Field Federation announced that she would also face a disciplinary hearing.

Papachristou’s coach, Georgi Pomaski, and her sports club, AEK, feel her punishment was too severe.

“We will fight any attempt to exclude our athlete… by all legal means,” AEK said in a statement.

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