A man seen flashing a racist hand signal became the first person to be convicted of a racially aggravated offense at the London Games, the Guardian reports. The accused pleaded guilty under the Public Order Act and was fined 2,500 pounds (nearly $3,900).
Petras Lescinskas, a 36-year-old Lithuanian accountant had been part of a group of rowdy spectators taunting the Nigerian basketball team during Lithuania's 72-53 victory over the Nigeria on Tuesday, according to the report.
Lescinskas was tried in Stratford magistrates court as an "Olympic Offense," defined by the Metropolitan Police as: "Any crime that has or may have an impact upon the effective delivery or image of the Games."
According to the Guardian, prosecutor Becky Owen told the court that Lescinkas was part of a group overheard making "monkey-style noises when Nigerian players had the ball."
Additionally, Lescinskas was seen making "a Nazi salute," while placing his fingers over his lips. The court was not swayed by Lescinskas' claims that it was common practice in his country to celebrate in that fashion and district judge Sonia Sims chastised his behavior as "tarnishing the whole ethos of the Games."
Undercover police infiltrated the stands in response to reports of similarly offensive behavior from Lithuanian fans at an earlier match against Argentina.
Following the arrest, Scotland Yard officials were quoted in the London Evening Standard confirming the arrest of a Lithuanian fan on racially-motivated charges.
"This was the result of a pro-active operation by officers from the Met and stewards following concerns raised by members of the public as to the conduct of a small element of the crowd at a previous event," the spokesperson said.
The arrest was a tarnishing moment for a nation still celebrating the surprise success of its 15-year-old swimming sensation Ruta Meilutyte. The teenage star won the 100-meter breaststroke Monday, beating out the American Rebecca Soni, the current world champion and favorite to win the gold, the Washington Post notes.
This is not the first time charges of racism have been raised at the London Games, however.
Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was recalled by the Hellenic Olympic Committee after tweeting a tasteless joke that made fun of African immigrants.
That same day, Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella was expelled from the Olympics after posting a threatening and racist message against South Koreanson the microblogging site. The comments were made following the Swiss team's 2-1 loss to South Korea on Sunday. Morganella referred to South Koreans as a "bunch of mongoloids" in the post, which has sense been deleted.
Both athletes released statements apologizing for their comments, but neither were reinstated to their respective national delegations.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more