An Air New Zealand promotion that insinuates disgraced Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk has male genitalia has sparked an angry backlash on social media.
The airline today launched its Christmas Cracker promotion, which gives people a chance to win prizes by opening a virtual Christmas cracker on the Grabaseat website.
Those who do not win a prize are offered a consolation joke. One joke is: ''What large heavy ball was responsible for Valerie Adams' gold medal? The Belarusian's left testicle.''
Several people took to social media website Twitter today to express their disgust at what they considered a bad taste dig at Ostapchuk.
Twitter user @Desdrata tweeted: ''Wow, can't believe you guys thought that was something good to post online.''
@johubris added: "This joke is unbelievably offensive, transphobic and just plain unnecessary."
The complaints were followed by a response from the Grabaseat Twitter account that said, ''Not everyone likes our xmas cracker jokes so tell us your tacky kiwi jokes & we'll add our favourites into the cracker.''
Ostapchuk became the subject of scorn in this country after the London Olympics when she was stripped of her shot put gold medal for taking banned steroids. She is currently serving a 12-month international ban imposed by her native Belarus.
The gold medal was subsequently awarded to New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams.
The joke at Ostapchuk's expense is not the first time Air New Zealand's attempt at humour has fallen flat in the past few weeks.
As part of a Halloween promotion, the airline renamed its Grabaseat destinations, changing Blenheim to Beastheim.
The reference to notorious sex predator Stewart Murray Wilson - dubbed The Beast of Blenheim - raised the ire of locals and forced a quick change of the town's name to Ghostheim.
During his brief stint as Tauranga MP from 2005 to 2008, former National Party member Bob Clarkson caused a stir by talking about his left testicle in public.
He eventually apologised after telling reporters, ''I bet my left testicle the All Blacks will win.''
The National Party leader at the time Don Brash did not see the funny side of Mr Clarkson's comments, publicly stating: ''I don't want any candidates to be talking about their testicles to be quite frank.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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