No one outside the tiny world of women’s track and field had ever heard of Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou (pictured) – much less her backward views on race. But with the start of the London Olympic Games just days away, Papachristou has become the unfortunate face of the games before the first competition has even begun.
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The physically attractive but culturally tone-deaf athlete was kicked off her Olympic track team for expressing racist, tasteless, and downright stupid views on Twitter about the swelling number of African immigrants in her country:
With so many Africans in Greece…at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!!!
Joan Rivers, she is not.
You can almost hear the cry that will come from her defenders: Why can’t Papachristou express her opinion? Doesn’t she have the right of free speech?
The answer is yes — and no. Yes, Papachristou does have the right to speak her mind to the unfortunate folks who have so little to do with their time, they manage to follow her drivel.
With that right comes the risk of angering enough reasonable people that they no longer want to represent them in any form or fashion.
But, Papachristou should have been watching the messages delivered in recent years by FIFA, the governing body of world soccer and perhaps the most-powerful sporting body on the planet: Racist comments from players against Black athletes won’t be tolerated.
I would have much more respect for Papachristou if after her dismissal from the team, she said to the world, “I’m sorry this got blown out of proportion, but that’s how I feel so live with it.”
And initially, that’s precisely what she did:
[About making inappropriate jokes] That’s how I am. I laugh. I am not a CD to get stuck!!! And if I make mistakes, I don’t press the replay! I press Play and move on!!!
But like the spineless jokester she truly is, once Papachristou realized that there were dire consequences to her “jokes” she backpedaled:
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.
It wasn’t that long ago that armed gunmen took the Olympic ideal and twisted it into a bloody nightmare in the 1972 terrorist attack in Munich, where 11 Israelis were murdered by Palestinians during the games.
Watch news coverage of the Munich massacre here:
No one can say Papachristou’s comments would have led to anything as tragic as the Munich Massacre, but the Olympic Games shouldn’t be used as a platform for anything even remotely resembling racism or sexism.
So now, after years of sweat and toil to make her nation’s Olympic squad, Papachristou can watch the games from the comfort of her home in Greece instead of participating in London.
Wonder if she sees her little joke as being all that funny now?