Liz Cambage threatens Olympics boycott over 'white-washed' photos

Liz Cambage, pictured here in action at the 2016 Olympics.

Australian basketball star Liz Cambage has threatened to boycott the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo over a lack of diversity in promotional photos of the Aussie team.

Taking to her Instagram story on Friday, the WNBA star pointed out the lack of racial diversity in a number of photo shoots of members of the Australian Olympic team.

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The 29-year-old posted two photos, the first which featured Aussie Olympian and Paralympians modelling underwear from the team's official supplier Jockey.

The second photo showed athletes at the launch of the Australian team's official uniforms for the Tokyo Olympics.

Liz Cambage, pictured here pointing out the lack of diversity in photos of the Australian Olympic team.
Liz Cambage pointed out the lack of diversity in two photos. Image: Instagram

“If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times. HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T EVEN REPRESENT ME #whitewashedaustralia,” Cambage wrote.

The caption for the second photo, which featured Indigenous rugby sevens player Maurice Longbottom, read: “Also fake tan doesn’t equal diversity.”

In the photo, Longbottom is wearing a shirt designed by Indigenous artist and Olympic boxer Paul Fleming.

“Y’all really do anything to remove POCs [people of colour] from the forefront when it’s black athletes leading the pack," Cambage added.

"Until i see y’all doing more @ausolympicteam imma sit this one out."

Cambage also posted footage of Cathy Freeman winning gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, writing: “Also just to remind you Australia’s GREATEST sporting moment was thanks too (sic) BLACK INDIGENOUS WOMAN.”

Maurice Longbottom, pictured here during the Australian Olympic Team's uniform unveiling.
Maurice Longbottom poses during the Australian Olympic Team's uniform unveiling. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images)

Australian Olympic Committee responds

A spokesperson for the Australian Olympic Committee has since conceded the photo shoot with Jockey was troublesome and “should have better reflected the rich diversity of athletes who represent Australia at the Olympic Games”.

“The AOC does however have a very proud history of celebrating and promoting diversity in all its forms," the AOC said in a statement.

"From Indigenous reconciliation, people of colour, gender equality and all forms of diversity, the AOC is rightly proud of its record.

“With regard to this photoshoot, however, we acknowledge while proud of the athletes involved and proud of our association with Jockey, it should have better reflected the diversity of our Team.

“The Olympic Charter commits us all to oppose any form of discrimination.”

Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes, pictured here modelling underwear from official supplier Jockey.
Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes modelling underwear from official supplier Jockey. Image: Jockey

Jockey has also apologised for the oversight.

"Jockey work with a diverse range of brand ambassadors across Australia and New Zealand, but acknowledge that we fell short in representing our diverse Australian community in these images of Olympic and Paralympic athletes," it said in a statement.

"Jockey is committed to supporting and representing all Australians and is proud to support all our Australian sporting heroes competing in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics."

Cambage has represented Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, helping the Opals win bronze in London in 2012.

The three-time WNBA All-Star also helped Australia win gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

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