Well, we can file this under “stupid ish you wish you could take back.”

Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was recently barred from competing in this year’s Olympic Games because of an offensive “joke” she sent about Africans in Greece.

On Monday, Papachristou told her Twitter followers, “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitos will be eating food from their own home.”

The tasteless tweet immediately caused a firestorm of criticism causing the Hellenic Olympic Committee to revoke Papachristou’s bid for Olympic gold. The Greek committee replaced the jumper, saying her comment was “outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”

Papachristou issued an apology for her tweet, telling fans she was “ashamed.”

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.

While I’m not sure Papachristou’s tweet was horrible enough to warrant being barred from the Olympics, this is yet another lesson for all of us to be careful what we say on social media. Someone is always watching.

What do you think? Should Papachristou have lost her Olympic spot? Speak on it!


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  1. Don't Believe the Hype

    I appreciate the title sincerely I feel her tweet was good-hearted joke not meant to demean anyone. If a black american would have made the same joke this wouldnt even hit 24/7 cycle. How does anyoe know if she is racist?

  2. No, I don’t think she should’ve lost her spot in the Olympics…but it certainly does go to show that there are some things (or jokes) that should only be said in the privacy of friends…

  3. Didn’t Greece invent democracy? Freedom of expression is on a slippery slope when trivial shit like this is censored

  4. She deserves to be punished. Public figures need to understand every action is either illuminated or dissected and should be mindful of the effect this can have. Once we stop accepting less deplorable behavior, maybe then we will see less racially motivated discrimination.

    • @Keeper: LOL overreact much? What (is) okay to say? So she said the mosquitos will be biting people from their home town? Big deal revoke her lifelong professional dream for that? Would you feel the same if this were a black athlete? Ask yourself that and answer yourself honestly.

      • @lj: It’s insensitive at the least but racially provocative at the same. To say something like that is ignorant and she knows that it what she was getting at. West Nile is an agressive form of the disease and she linking it to people as if the insects can tell the difference. just a stupid remark

  5. I don’t think she should have been professionally punished for this. The joke didn’t sound racist to me. People are much too sensitive in my opinion.

  6. The significance of her comments must also be considered in the context of the anti-immigrant backlash happening in Greece right now. Incidences of violence against primarily African immigrants (legal or not) have been on a significant upswing since Greece’s economic troubles. Even mild anti-immigrant jokes such as hers that compared insects overrunning the country to the immigrants overrunning the country are not appropriate

  7. I am astounded by the ignorance displayed on this thread. First, all Olympic athletes were warned by the IOC about posting offensive things on social media. They were warned! So, free speech has nothing to do with this, nor censorship. An athlete ignored the rules and she got punished.

    • @Val: @Don’t Believe the Hype:

      The comments only display ignorance if you are “assuming” that everybody considered or construed the statement as being offensive. If you want truly offensive I can direct you to the much less obtuse comments that make no doubt as to where the commenter is coming from. I don’t leave in Greece, don’t know their situation so trying to put some kind of “American” context to her statement would be ignorant of me. Chris Rock made an equally innocuous statement around the the 4th of July that some found troublesome, but many did not. There is no consensus of opinion on these things. People have the right to their own opinion about things, and need not necessarily be called “ignorant” for it — that’s regardless of me agreeing with their opinion or not.

  8. She’s racist. Most whites are. Who cares. Move on. GO USA

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