A news website has apologised after publishing a piece critics claimed outed gay Olympic athletes through hook-up app Grindr.
The Daily Beast article saw journalist Nico Hines attempt to see if an “Average Joe” could join the “bacchanalia” of the Olympic Village, which tabloid stories have suggested is a “sex, sex, sex”, he wrote.
But the reporter writing there was “no prizes for guessing” Grindr led to more meetings, and recording details of athlete profiles - including the countries they were representing - led to widespread condemnation.
Hines, a former Times reporter, says he “didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t” - though undermines that argument by admitting he is straight and married. He writes about some of the “dozens of eligible bachelors” listed.
Leading the chorus of disapproval was skier Gus Kenworthy, an Olympic medallist who is openly gay.
Widely shared was a reaction penned by writer Mark Joseph Stern on Slate, who accused the New York-based site of publishing a “gay-shaming, hugely unethical Grindr stunt story” that “outed several closeted Olympians”.
After warning athletes risked having teammates and family disown them, and that some could represent countries that “could imprison them”, he wrote:
“Hines’ article is a dangerous disaster, a wildly unethical train wreck that should be taken down immediately for the sake of its duped subjects.”
Among many more to slam the piece was British MP David Lammy.
He called the report “nasty, mean and horribly homophobic”.
Later, The Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon admitted there was “legitimate concern” that the piece would compromise the safety of gay male athletes “even by implication”, and that all descriptions of profiles had been removed.
He denied the piece was “mocking or ex-shaming” people using Grindr, but went on:
“But it’s up to us to deliver stories that are so clear, they can’t be misinterpreted—and we clearly fell short of that standard in this article.
“Accordingly, we have made some editorial changes to the article, responding to readers’ concerns, and are again sorry for any upset the original version of this piece inspired.”