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Olympic athletes have to adhere to plenty of rules and regulations in order to be eligible to compete in the Games, but some have been disqualified for surprising infractions. Twitter jokes gone bad, visiting a spouse outside the Olympic Village, and throwing matches have seen top athletes sent home from London.
Kim Collins, a sprinter from St. Kitts and Nevis, was recently punished for not staying in the Athletes’ Village for a couple of days. It turns out that he was staying at a nearby hotel with his wife, who also happens to be his coach. The St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC) decided to send him home just a few hours before he was to run in the 100-meter race. They released a statement that explained, “Mr. Collins’ departure is down to his repeated absences from training sessions and also for refusing to respond to repeated phone calls and emails by team manager and coaches. Furthermore, Mr. Collins did not make an appearance for registration for his events at the Olympic Village [on Friday, August 3] as requested.”
The statement makes the loss of accreditation sound slightly more valid; his absence from the Village must have been longer than an overnight stay. Collins, who was the flag bearer for his country, is angry. He took to Twitter and Facebook to tell his fans that his last competition in Mexico was the last time he represents his country and that he did not leave the London Games willingly.
St. Kitts and Nevis has an Olympic team of only seven athletes, and Collins is the second member they have sent home. If the committee continues to enforce their rules so strictly, they may not have a team left by the end of the Games. During the first weekend of the Games, Tameka Williams, the only female on the team, was sent home for drug violations. The odd thing is, the sprinter had not tested positive for any banned substances, according to the Observer. The SKNOC claims that Williams admitted to using a substance “clearly outside the medical code.”
Tweets have spelled out expulsion for a Greek triple jumper. Voula Papachristou was ousted before the Games even started after a tweet she sent on July 22 was found to be racist. According to USA Today, the 23-year-old tweeted “So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food.” The International Olympic Committee has strict guidelines regarding social media, which Papachristou violated. The Hellenic Olympic Committee stated that Papachristou was no longer on the Olympic team because of “statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement."
USA Today reports that she also expressed support for a far-right political party on her Twitter feed. Papachristou apologized for her tweet, but it was too late; she was not be able to participate in her first Olympic Games in London. On her Facebook page, she posted, “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.”
Eight athletes in badminton doubles were disqualified from the Games for throwing matches. Because of the round robin style of competition, teams from China, South Korea, and Indonesia found it was beneficial to lose in the beginning of the tournament in order to face less-skilled opponents. The cheap tactic was obviously in use when the matches became “embarrassing to watch,” according to 2008 silver medalist Gail Emms via CBS News. Even the crowds were calling for the teams to be thrown off the court.
Getting to the Olympics is hard enough, so athletes must be very careful not to be thrown out once they are there. The important lesson here is, if you find yourself competing in the Olympics, play by the rules, show up when you need to, and try your best every time. Unfortunately, the lesson came too late for all of these athletes who went home early.