Nude video haunts Lebanese Olympic skier
Old topless video resurfaces to distrub Lebanese athlete as she competes at the Sochi Games
A past, racy video of Lebanon native Jackie Chamoun without her clothes has come back to haunt her as she prepares to compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The video, circulated on the internet on Monday, was taken behind the scenes of a calendar photo shoot, becomes progressively raunchier as the professional skier takes off more clothes.
Chamoun initially begins sprawled out in the snow with a long, unzipped white jacket, revealing bare legs and hints of her décolletage.
Half way through the video the glamorous red head is seen removing the white jacket, revealing that she is only wearing a barely-there black G-string and snow boots.
The 22-year-old undergoes a minimal costume change as she changes into skimpy pink bottoms, leaving her top uncovered, while she poses with skis at the top of a snow covered mountain range.
The video also features a short conversation she has with the photographer, in which he asks her if it is easier to be a model or ski instructor.
"It's easier to ski because I'm not used to posing with no clothes on," she replied.
The video and corresponding photo shoot, which Chamoun says took place three years ago, resurfaced after Al-Jadeed television published them, calling the incident, "a scandal."
While the calendar has been out since November, Chamoun's popularity leading up to the Olympics has prodded the athlete's photos into the center of media frenzy.
The skier is only one of two athletes representing Lebanon at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, intensifying the backlash she is receiving back home for her near-nude photo spread.
After local media made public her past conduct, the athlete addressed her country and apologized.
“I just want to make it clear to everyone who commented, shared the photos that appeared on the net in Lebanon yesterday. Yes, I did photos for an Austrian ski calendar with other professional athletes,” she wrote in a public message on her official Facebook page.
Acknowledging her roots, Chamoun said she understood why people would be upset.
“I want to apologize to all of you, I know that Lebanon is a conservative country and this is not the image that reflects our culture. I fully understand if you want to criticize (sic) this,” she added.
All publicity is good publicity
In a message on Tuesday, Chamoun implored Lebanon to stop spreading the images on social media so she could focus on her performance at the upcoming prestigious event.
“Now that I’m at the Olympic Games, these photos that I never saw before are being shared. It is sad. All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it, it will really help me focusing on what is really important now: my trainings and race,” she said.
Her statement received an inundation of support from Lebanese fans with nearly 300 comments wishing her luck and telling her she didn't have to apologize.
Her official Facebook page had also garnered 2,000 more fans.
However, not everyone is a fan.
On Tuesday, the caretaker Sports and Youth Minister Faisal Karami asked the head of Lebanon's Olympic committee to file the "necessary inquiries" into the incident to ensure "the protection of Lebanon's reputation," according to the country's National News Agency.
The head of Lebanon's Olympic delegation told Agence France-Presse that Chamoun had been barred from speaking to the media.
“[Caretaker] Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami, during a call with the head of the Lebanese Olympic Committee Jean Hammam, asked that the necessary investigation be launched ... as soon as possible in order to the take the required steps to [avoid] harming Lebanon’s reputation and international participation,” the NNA said.
Despite the disapproving gossip and condemnation Chamoun is feeling from her native country, international coverage of the incident has so far been positive.
Seeming to understand the photos could rematerialize, Chamoun told NBCOlmypics.com before the scandal broke that, “When I started my job, for example, people when they search for me on the web sometimes they can see these pictures directly so you think maybe it’s not the best thing, not the best image you can give someone of you.”
The skier quickly followed up, however, that she was unaffected by her past decisions.
“But, I don’t really care, though. I really enjoyed it and I don’t regret it. I like these photos,” she said.
The annual Austrian Ski Instructors calendar that Chamoun appeared in also featured fellow 29-year-old Lebanese skier Chirine Njeim.
The calendar features male and female Olympic athletes and was photographed by six-time Mexican Olympic skier and German Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe at the Faraya ski resort outside of Lebanon.
In Sochi, Chamoun will compete in the ladies slalom ski competition Feb. 21 and ladies giant slalom Feb. 18.