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)
American 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.
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?