Korea's Bokyung Kim (L) challenges Switzerland's Michel Morganella (R) during the London 2012 Olympic men's football match between South Korea and Switzerland. (PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)
By Jon Saraceno, USA TODAY
LONDON (USA TODAY) - Twitter is proving lethal for some Olympic athletes.
Less than a week into the 2012 London Olympics and already two athletes have been expelled for racially charged messages. Monday, the Swiss Olympic Committee bounced soccer player Michel Morganella, 23, after his offensive comment following Switzerland's 2-1 loss to South Korea a day earlier.
Translated from French, Morganella's tweet said he wanted to beat up South Koreans, that they should "burn" and that they were a "bunch of mongoloids."
Last week, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, a right-wing political supporter, was expelled by Greek athletic officials after she mocked African immigrants.
Offensive remarks are in breach of the International Olympic Committee's code of ethics.
In Morganella's case, he "discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity" of the South Korean team, as well as the nation's citizens, Swiss committee chief Gian Gilli said Monday in a statement at a news conference.
Gilli said Morganella willingly accepted the punishment. His Twitter account has already been deleted.
"Michel indeed does realize that his behavior was wrong," Gilli added. "We hope that he will draw the necessary lessons for his still-young football career.''
Morganella attempted to apologize on Twitter in French and English, trying to explain that he made his comments in the heat of defeat.
Luis Milla, Spain's soccer coach, said athletes are entitled to their opinions, but "people in the sports world when they tweet, they have to be respectful.''
Two American divers, David Boudia and Nick McCrory, said they are mindful of the potential dangers.
"Everyone sees it - it's not like you can say something and delete it right away,'' Boudia said. "It's going to be found. You just have to be careful of what you want to say and how your message is going to come across. Ten years down the road, they're going to look back at that."
Said McCrory: "If you wouldn't say it in an interview, you probably shouldn't tweet it. That's my rule of my thumb. Social media guidelines are the same as social guidelines. There are things you do and don't say."
Fans are becoming exceedingly wary, too. Sam Quinton, 21, of Woodford, England, said he recently deleted his Twitter account. But he said, "Twitter is something (many athletes) use every day. Suddenly, when they're being looked at by so many people, their opinions get scrutinized even more.''