When the 2012 London Olympics get underway Friday, Voula Papachristou won't be there. The Greek triple jumper's controversial tweet about African immigrants in her country and West Nile Virus led the Hellenic Olympic Committee to expel Papachristou from the games.
With so many Africans in Greece... At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!! Papachristou wrote July 22 on her Twitter account. The remark has not been taken down, although Papachristou, 23, apologized for the tweet.
West Nile Virus killed one man in Athens in June and five other cases of the mosquito-borne illness were reported in the Greece, according to Reuters.
The comment drew condemnation throughout much of the world, many saying that the tweet was racist.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee kicked Papachristou off the Greek Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement, the Associated Press reported.
Papachristou apologized Wednesday for her remarks, although she denied being racist and said that was not her intention when she made the comments.
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, the Greek athlete wrote. 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.
Papachristou continued, 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.
Papachristou's ban from the 2012 London Olympics marks the first time an athlete was expelled from the worldwide competition for comments made on social media, according to Sports Illustrated.
Isidoros Kouvelos, head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, said Papachristou showed no respect for the basic Olympic value.
She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes, he said, according to the BBC.
Papachristou, a native of Athens, won a bronze medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships, Sky News reported.