Greek track star Voula Papachristou has been suspended from her country’s Olympic team, after she made a comment about Africans who live in Greece. The comment was widely noticed on her Twitter feed, and resulted in her removal from the London 2012 roster.
On Twitter, Papachristou also reportedly expressed support for the right-wing Greek political party Golden Dawn, particularly its views on immigration.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said that Papachristou “is suspended after her comments that go against to the values and ideals of Olympism.”
Papachristou, 23, had been expected to contend for a medal in the triple jump. She had not yet traveled to London. Today, she posted an apology on her Facebook page:
“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.”
The International Olympic Committee has strict rules governing athletes’ and coaches’ use of social media.