ATHENS, Greece — Triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from Greece’s Olympic team Wednesday for her comments on Twitter mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right party.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Papachristou had been excluded from the team “for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
After the comments and the ensuing uproar, the Hellenic Olympic Committee banned all Greek athletes from using social media to express any personal opinions not related to the Olympics.
Papachristou’s Twitter account, (at)papaxristoutj, contained several retweets and links to sites and YouTube videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, a formerly marginal extreme right party that won Parliamentary seats in national elections in May and June, polling almost 7 percent of the vote. She has since erased those links and retweets from her account.
But it was her attempt at a joke Sunday that went viral. Commenting on the widely reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, Papachristou wrote: “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”. Her tweet prompted thousands of negative comments that snowballed Wednesday.
Egypt’s Olympians sporting knockoff gear
CAIRO — The tracksuits and bags of Egypt’s Olympic team are emblazoned with the familiar Nike and Adidas logos, and the country’s committe chairman says that’s good enough — even though they’re fakes.
“We signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt’s economic situation,” Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali told fhe Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Ali said the real thing was just too expensive, and the state of Egypt’s battered finances led him to opt for the counterfeit gear, which he said was “sufficient.”
If Nike has a problem with it, then it should deal directly with the Chinese distributor who sold it, Ali said in separate remarks to the state-run Ahram Online.
“Nike is highly concerned that if these allegations are true, the athletes will have received products that do not meet Nike’s quality standards,” the company said in an emailed statement late Wednesday.
Fencer tapped as flag bearer for U.S. team
LONDON — Two-time Olympic fencing champion Mariel Zagunis will carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony of the London Games.
The U.S. Olympic Committee says Zagunis won a vote of the 529-strong team ahead of Friday’s ceremony.
Zagunis says she is “extremely humbled by this incredible privilege.”