Olympic lightweight boxing champion Kellie Harrington has moved to clarify her stance on immigration after a tense interview with Off The Ball's Shane Hannon went viral yesterday.
Harrington, who won the lightweight boxing title at the Tokyo 2020 Games, was asked by sports broadcaster Shane Hannon about a tweet she posted and deleted in October 2020. The tweet was a quote retweet of a video from GB News, a UK media outlet known for its conservative and anti-immigration stance. The video featured Dutch commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek, who blamed the murder of a 12-year-old French girl on mass migration.
Harrington had written: “Very very sad. Such a powerful message from Eva Vlaardingerbroek. Our own leaders need to take a listen. She believes this is the 12th girl in France this year who has been killed by an immigrant… and that’s just France.”
After later deleting her tweet, Harrington stated she did not intend the “hate post” and that she was moved by the “horrific circumstances” of the girl’s story.
However yesterday in a media interview with Harrington on Off The Ball promoting her ambassadorship with Spar, OTB's Hannon moved to clarify Harrington's “strongly held views on immigration." The Olympic boxer responded abrupbtly by assuing the journalist of trying to “hang me out to dry” and refused to answer the question.
Kellie Harrington discussed her deleted tweet on immigration on #OTBAM. pic.twitter.com/cerleODJNa
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) March 27, 2023
The interview ended abruptly after an off-camera PR handler intervened and asked Hannon to move on. The clip of the interview went viral on social media, with many people criticizing Harrington for her apparent lack of awareness and empathy for immigrants and refugees.
Following a backlash across social media, Harrington later took to Twitter to release a statement, in which she said she was “not prepared for a question unrelated to sport” and that she is “all about community, inclusivity and diversity”. She also explained that she reposted the video of Vlaardingerbroek without knowing who she was and that her thoughts were only of the young girl who was killed. She said she realized the significance of her tweet and the hurt it caused to some people and that she immediately deleted it. Harrington also added that she added that she does not want to engage in politically sensitive matters and that she respects everyone’s opinions and beliefs.
A statement following my interview earlier with OTB pic.twitter.com/FGuO3w7Wwe
— Kellie Harrington (@Kelly64kg) March 27, 2023