Lebanese slalom skier Jackie Chamoun is facing criticism in her home country, with even the Sports Minister calling for an investigation, after images from a topless calendar photoshoot emerged on the internet Monday.
The pictures were actually taken three years ago, and the calendar released this past November. It features male and female skiers (including Chamoun's teammate Chirine Njeim, who competed in Turin and Vancouver) in various states of undress, though all the naughtiest bits are covered up. But a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot that does have brief glimpses of nudity recently appeared, presumably to take advantage of Chamoun's Olympic appearance.
I hope you're proud of yourself for watching that whole thing just to see a combined 1.5 seconds of nipple.
The absolute best thing about the calendar is that it was shot by prince/pop-star/photographer/Olympic skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe. Is there anything Hubertus can't do? (The answer is of course not, he's Hubertus.)
One of the more liberal countries in the Middle East, Lebanon has offered a mixed reaction to Chamoun's photos. Many think they're no big deal, and they're heavily circulating on social media. But the more conservative parts of the country are calling for Chamoun to be censured, even pulled out of the Olympics.
Lebanon's interim sports minister Faisal Karami called the Lebanese Olympic Committee and requested they take "the necessary inquiries…as soon as possible in order to the take the required steps to [avoid] harming Lebanon's reputation and international participation."
For her part, Chamoun initally stood behind her participation in the calendar. In an interview before the behind-the-scenes video leaked, she told NBC,"I really enjoyed it and I don't regret it. I like these photos. I have no problem with it."
But amidst this mini-scandal, which has been heavily covered in Lebanese media, Chamoun offered an apology on her Facebook page:
"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 3 years ago. The photos of the photoshoot are not like the actual images that are now circulating on the net. The video and photos that you are now seeing are part of the making off, the preparation, it wasn't supposed to go public. Anyways, 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 this."
The Lebanese Olympic Committee is standing behind Chamoun. In a statement released last night, it said that while the photos "do not reflect the real image of Lebanese sports," it would take no action against her because "the offense did not take place during the preparations for the Games nor during the Games."
Chamoun will compete in the slalom and giant slalom next week.