Earlier this week, Voula Papachristou was getting ready to compete in the triple jump for the Greek Olympic team. But then she sent out a racist message on Twitter.
The 23-year-old athlete has been kicked off of the Olympic team and will not be competing this week at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“I have not slept at all and to be honest I am still trying to come to terms with what has happened. I am trying to stay calm otherwise I would lose control…. I am thankful to my coach and family and so many other people who have stuck by me…. After so many years of hurt and sacrifices to try and get to my first Olympics I am very bitter and upset. But what has upset me the most is the excessive reaction and speed of the disciplinary decision.”
Last week, Papachristou wrote on Twitter:
“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”
Papachristou apologized for the Tweet but the Greek Olympic Committee decided that it was too little and too late. The committee decided that Papachristou did not embody the spirit of the Olympic Games and kicked her off the team.
Isidoros Kouvelos, president of the Greek Olympic Committee, said:
“She showed no respect for a basic Olympic value and unfortunately she is out…. She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes.”
Do you think Papachristou deserved her punishment? Is it fair for a Tweet to end her Olympic dreams?
There are good arguments on both sides of the question. For some, a 144 character mistake shouldn’t erase the hard-work that Papachristou put in to earn her Olympic bid. For others, Papachristou’s comment was too racist, and almost more importantly, too public, to be forgiven.
What do you think? Was Voula Papachristou’s punishment fair?