Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Should athlete's anti-immigrant comment get her banned from Olympics?

Photo by dr_relling/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A segment today on KPCC's AirTalk over an Olympic Twitter flap has drawn a long list of comments online, not surprising given what was tweeted. Last weekend, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou tweeted this (warning, it's not pretty), apparently in response to news that mosquitoes in Greece were infecting people with West Nile virus:
“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting homemade food!!!”

On a lesser note, Papachristou also reportedly retweeted several tweets from the controversial spokesman of a far-right political party in Greece that she supports. And to make a long story short, in spite of her apologies since, she has now been expelled from the games in London.

The online debate has swirled not only around free speech and whether such anti-immigrant comments should be tolerated, but also around what role political affiliation should play. But it's Papachristou's offending tweet that lies at the heart of the controversy.

Below is some of what the AirTalk audience has been sharing. What are your thoughts?

Vicky Mastro wrote:

It has nothing to do with sports or any group, it was really bad judgement on her part to tweet such a thing and yes, there should be consequences...in this case it has cost her participation in the olympic games.

Jessica wrote:
The Olympics IS SUPPOSED TO BE about peoples of the world getting along and competing in sport.  I think it is entirely fair  to remove someone who does not uphold the values (all of them) of the Olympic Games

Jack in Ventura wrote:
So what kind of litmus test is going to be applied?

If it's an athlete's own personal bias - they get kicked. But if it's institutionalized by the country they represent (Say Iran's view towards Isreal...) they then get a pass to compete - regardless of whether the athlete themselves is in agreement with their government or not?

So a Greek gets booted for speaking freely, but Iran as a team gets to compete despite official government statements that many would find much worse?


Dg wrote:
Great topic just because there is no one-size -fits all standard.  Wisdom ahd prudence are required.  The issue reminds me of movie stars using the Oscars to grandstand.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes we want that old hook from Vaudeville days.  YOur freedom of speech is often limited by the company you work for or the nation you represent.  At least when you're "on duty".

Cameron (Pasadena) wrote:
It seems that there's a point that's missing from the conversation here: there's a difference between racism and politics.

Allen in Torrance wrote:
Would we rather just not know what these people think?  "Yay! She won the gold medal, out of site out of mind, I don't have to think about her being racist."

Rich in Arcadia wrote:
Are the Africans she is talking about illegal immigrants?

Why is being upset with illegal immigration a betrayal of Olympic ideals?


And Glenno C wrote:
A ban on all sociopolitical expression isn't necessary.  But shunning  racism and intolerance specifically seems good and in keeping with the Olympic ideals.

Agree or disagree? Your turn - post it below.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading Multi-American? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC