Olympic Athletes Being Banned from Competition for Insensitive Tweets

The 2012 Olympics in London have just started and already we’re hearing about athletes being outed (and in some cases banned from competition) for making insensitive or otherwise controversial tweets. By themselves, these tweets would be considered little more than lapses in personal judgment, but the Olympic commission takes the remarks of the athletes very seriously.

The entire world is watching these athletes very closely, and their actions and words are weighed very carefully during the games. Unfortunately for some, an activity that most people take for granted with very little repercussions in their everyday lives are having to be extra careful about what they say and do.

Michel Morganella (Switzerland)

Michael Morganella, a Swiss soccer player, was expelled from the games after making a racist remark concerning South Korea after a 2-1 loss during Sunday’s game. The remark was quickly removed from Twitter (as well as his account) and he was sent home.

Morganella took responsibility for his writing, and apologized to South Koreans everywhere as well as to officials involved with the Swiss Olympic efforts. For now, the team will have to continue its quest for Olympic gold without him.

Voula Papachristou (Greece)

Greek Jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Olympic games just two days before competition was set to begin. During a series of tweets, she made what have been seen as racist remarks regarding African immigrants and the West Nile virus. She is also a very vocal supporter of the Golden Dawn party in Greece, having posted (and retweeted) strong political statements on several occasions.

In short, these statements have been taken as going against the Olympic spirit — the racist tweet being a giant leap over what is a very thin line for Olympic hopefuls.

Papachristou responded to the decision through Twitter: “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.”

Lolo Jones (USA)

Olympic Athletes Being Banned from Competition for Insensitive TweetsAmerican hurdler Lolo Jones (29) tweeted: “USA Men’s Archery lost the gold medal to Italy, but that’s ok, we are Americans… When’s da Gun shooting competition?”

This comment by itself is harmless. There is a shooting competition as part of the Olympic games. In fact, the United States has indeed won a gold medal in that sport as of the writing of this article. Unfortunately, the memories of the shooting in Colorado are still fresh in the minds of many Americans, and this is exactly where many of her followers have taken her otherwise lighthearted comments.

Does this make the tweet insensitive or otherwise wrong? Not by far, but it’s just one example of just how careful these athletes have to be while under the microscope of the world.

Thankfully, Jones was not banned over her statement.

Final Thoughts

Not only for Olympic athletes, but anyone wishing to expand their career, watching what you say on social networks like Twitter and Facebook is essential to creating a positive public image for yourself. Now, more than ever, your words and actions have a direct impact on your professional life.

For two of these athletes, their dreams of competing at the Olympic games have ended. Lolo Jones, with what could be considered by most to be a perfectly innocent tweet (which proved to be somewhat accurate given the gold medal win by the US Shooting Team) has made a dent in her public profile.

This begs the question: What new technology or social network will athletes be suspended over in 2016?

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

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  • AlexBivolcic

    Jones didn’t deserve a single problem! Yes we are Americans the first thing I thought of when reading that statement is Americans enjoy guns and are allowed to own them showing that we are skilled with them. Not the CO shooting!

  • instantsoup

    To hell with the anti USA crowd. They all want our money and freedoms but won’t work to get their own.

  • Steven

    “Unfortunately for some, an activity that most people take for granted” That activity was being ‘racist’. In any civilised country that behaviour is illegal. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and Twitter or any other social network become an irrelevance.
    Do you think outspoken racists should be allowed to compete?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Werneken/1428284599 John Werneken

    *ssh*les! Personally I believe I have the right to say the most offensive thing I can imagine anytime anywhere, and that the rest of you have three options: do nothing; respond in kind; or consider whether laws on slander might apply. NO ONE has the right not to be offended, nor the right to do a damn thing about it if they are.

    I have no use for corporate-sponsored athletics anyway, maybe the Olympics should be banned for being anti-free speach.

    It’s different in a business context when it is reasonable that the firm would be associated with the offensive remarks as it goes to whether it remains profitable to employ the one with the sharp tongue.

    I prefer to think that most folks would rather get along with others then be seen as obnoxious by them, and would accordingly tend to limit comments likely to be taken as offensive.

    I guess the Olympics considers their athletes to be employees lol.

  • Barbara fariƱa

    I do not like racist remarks but everybody have the right to say what they want!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1769786900 Robert Stipe

    John, the olympics is an INTERNATIONAL event, meaning that the U.S. does not control it or the world for that matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moniquecloutier MoniqueCloutier MoniqueBriand

    Remarkable … anyone wishing to expand their career, watching what you say on social networks like Twitter and Facebook is essential to creating a positive public image for yourself. Now, more than ever, your words and actions have a direct impact on your professional life.

  • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

    Imagine if these rules had been in place during the Nazi Olympics — I’m sorry, was that remark insensitive?