ATHENS (Reuters) - Triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou’s expulsion from the Greek Olympics team for a tweet seen as racist was unduly harsh, her coach told Reuters on Wednesday.
“It’s too much, the penalty should not have been so strict,” George Pomaski told Reuters.
“She has already apologised for her remarks.”
Papachristou, 23, was pulled from the team in London on Wednesday after she prompted outrage at home for tweeting: “With so many Africans in Greece... the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!!!”
She later apologised for the comment, saying she was ashamed of making “an unfortunate and tasteless joke”. That failed to impress the Greek Olympic mission, which said she could not represent Greece after not respecting basic Olympic values.
Pomaski said he had been unable to reach her for several hours.
“She has disappeared,” he said. “This is a big disappointment not only for her but for her family and for myself, and anyone involved in the Greek team.”
Greece is sending 105 competitors in 16 sports to the London Olympics beginning on Friday. A small outbreak of the West Nile virus in the country has claimed one victim this year, while five other cases have been reported.
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