Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off the Greek Olympic team for a racist tweet. The tweet, according to a translation on Gawker, joked, “”With so many Africans in Greece .. At least the West Nile mosquitos .. will eat homemade food!!!” The athlete in question had also re-tweeted a message from a far right politician.
I wonder whether such a ban could happen to an athlete on the US Olympic team? What would it take for a US athlete to be removed if in fact one could be removed for a tweet?
On an international level there is the International Olympic Committee social medial policy statement. That statement in part says,
“postings, blogs and tweets should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, be dignified and in good taste, and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.”
In turn, according to the Olympic charter, one of the fundamental principles of Olympism is:
“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
Given that wording the International Olympic Committee, based in Switzerland, would have the power to remove an athlete for an inappropriate, racist or otherwise offensive tweet.
However, I would think that the US Olympic Committee or any related committee would run into First Amendment issues no matter how egregious the comment. I hope that no US Olympic athlete tries to test out the limits.