Published on Thursday, 26 July 2012 13:31 Written by The Guardian
Papachristou, 23, was removed from the Greek Olympic team on Wednesday after causing uproar with the tweet about the widely reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens. She wrote: "With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food." She subsequently deleted the message.
Golden Dawn, which took advantage of a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in Greece to surprisingly win seats in the country's parliament, objected to her being removed.
"The only racism in Greece is the racism against the Greeks," Golden Dawn said on its website. "Anybody who says even a word against illegal immigrants is held up to public ridicule.
"It would be more honest to pass a law condemning everybody who has different views to death by stoning."
Several other smaller parties and politicians also criticised the Olympic team's decision, saying it was excessive.
"I believe it was exaggerated to expel Papachristou, especially after she apologised," tweeted Adonis Georgiadis, a conservative MP.
But others defended the decision. "Her excuse [apology] was just for show," wrote Greece's biggest newspaper, Ta Nea.
Other media also criticised Papachristou for nationalist tweets last month, including one in which she reportedly praised the Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, hoping he continues to be "truthful".
Papachristou was expelled by the Greek Olympic Committee, which condemned the comment as "contrary to the values and ideals of the Olympic movement".
Papachristou's coach, George Pomaski, said the expulsion was unduly harsh. "It's too much, the penalty should not have been so strict. She has already apologised for her remarks. This is a big disappointment not only for her but for her family and for myself, and anyone involved in the Greek team."
Papachristou, though, issued an apology, saying: "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."