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article imageGreek triple jumper Voula Papachristo ousted over tweet

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By Larry Clifton     Jul 25, 2012 in Sports
Athens - Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristo has been expelled from the Olympics, a casualty of tweeting, her athletic abilities notwithstanding.
Papachristo was booted from the London Games by Greece for her Twitter comments regarding African immigrants and for expressing support for a far-right party. Papachristo did set an Olympian record by becoming the first athlete to be expelled for comments made over Internet social media, according to a USA Today report.
At age 23, Papachristou was to compete in her first Games and hails from Athens.
The IOC has set strict guidelines on what athletes can say in social media, however this is the first case of an athlete being expelled from the Olympics for social media use.
The Tweet that got Papachristou in trouble was posted July 22: "So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food".
Fifty-four people marked it as a "favorite" on Twitter.
She apologized on Twitter and Facebook, saying that her comment was a joke. "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 anyone’s 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," she said.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said in a statement Wednesday that Papachristou is "placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement."
Papachristou, in Athens, was to travel to London shortly before the track events start Aug. 3. She placed 11th at the European Championships in 2011.
Word spread throughout the Olympic Village, where most of the athletes will live during the Games.
U.S. swimmer Ricky Berens, who posts on Twitter, said he hadn't read Papachristou's tweets, but he had heard of the athlete's expulsion.
"If you post something racist, I would expect there would be some sort of punishment," Berens said. "That's probably a big 'No, no, no.'"
With so many athletes tweeting, he wasn't really surprised by the news.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of warnings handed out," he said.
"You always have to think through what you're going to tweet — are you allowed to, would they appreciate it?"
U.S. fencer Tim Morehouse, a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the expulsion will be a guide for other athletes.
"When you hear stories like that, you're sort of learning the line of what you can present and what you can't," Morehouse said.
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