Teammates respond to Liz Cambage's Olympics boycott threat

·4-min read
Former Opals teammate Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson are pictured together on the side of the court.
Former Opals teammate Lauren Jackson does not believe Liz Cambage will follow through with a threat to boycott the Olympics. Pic: AAP

Aussie basketball great Lauren Jackson has hosed down concerns Liz Cambage will follow through with last week's bombshell threat to boycott the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

On Friday, Cambage hit out at what she claimed was a lack of racial diversity in Australian Olympic team promotional photos, threatening to boycott the Tokyo Games in protest.

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The two-time Olympian took exception to two separate photos - one released this week showing athletes from Australia's Olympic and Paralympic teams in apparel supplied by sponsor Jockey, but without a person of colour.

"If I've said it once I've said it a million times," Cambage, said in an Instagram story.

"HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESNT EVEN REPRESENT ME #whitewashedaustralia."

Seen here are the two Australian Olympic team photos that Liz Cambage criticised.
The two photos Liz Cambage took exception to. Image: Instagram

Cambage's post sparked a wave of backlash across Australia, with many slamming the manner in which she went about expressing her opinion, even if many agreed with it.

Jackson - arguably Australia's greatest female basketball player of all time - praised Cambage for her advocacy but said she couldn't see her former Opals teammate actually boycotting the Tokyo Games.

“Hope? I know it will (resolve itself),” Jackson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“High-performance has been in touch with all the athletes. Everything sorts itself out, I really believe that everything will work out.

“We’ve just got to let this play out.

“She’s had such a great career with the national team. She loves the green and gold, she wears it with pride.

“We just want to see her on that medal display with our team. She’s got an opinion and I respect that opinion like everyone does and it’s fantastic she has a platform she can use.”

WNBA star Cambage is one of the most important players in an Australian side that will head to Tokyo as a strong Olympic medal chance, and her absence would represent a massive blow to those chances.

Opals teammate Lauren Nicholson is set to fly to Japan with the Australian side, but denies the Cambage drama will be a distraction to the side. 

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We are an inclusive sport,” Nicholson told the Herald. 

“She obviously adds a lot to the Opals. We are just focusing on the Olympics and what we can do to win.”

Those comments come after two high-profile Australian sporting icons criticised Cambage of being disrespectful with regards to her initial post.

Tennis great Todd Woodbridge insisted the basketball star should have aired her grievances in a different way.

"You cannot threaten to pull out of representing your country, you’ve got the privilege to be there and to do something special," said on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday.

“If you want to do something like that, why don’t you do it the way Naomi Osaka did it? I mean, she changed the world. She didn’t have to get out there and use language and threaten us all that we’ve done the wrong thing."

Cambage criticised over boycott threat

Woodbridge said Cambage should take a leaf out of Ash Barty's book.

“I’d say, good on you for standing up for it but there are ways," he continued.

"We’ve got another great ambassador here in Australia we just spoke about, Ash Barty; she does it the right way. That’s not her style.

“I just believe there was a bit of disrespect for the athletes in the photo, who rightfully deserved to be in that photo."

Woodbridge's views followed those from a former mentor of Cambage's - ex-Opals coach Tom Maher - who said it was "inappropriate" to threaten a boycott of the Olympics.

“If I was coach, I wouldn’t entertain any threats at all. If she wants to come, she can come, but if she told me she was going to boycott I’d say, ‘Good luck, see you later’.

“She is a great player, but the issues need to be attended to in the right environment. Right now if you are an Olympian, you could make the protest without making the threat.

“That would be a more appropriate way of dealing with it."

Seen here, Liz Cambage's response to criticism about her threat to boycott the Olympics.
Liz Cambage hit out at the haters on social media. Pic: Instagram

Cambage hit back after revealing the threats she'd received from online trolls, while also insisting that she had no intention of listening to the opinion of what she claimed was an "abusive" former coach.

“I DO NOT CARE FOR A WHITE MAN’S OPINION ON RACIAL ISSUES. NEVER HAVE. NEVER WILL”, Cambage wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of her sticking her tongue out.

“Especially when the comments come from one of the most abusive coaches I have ever had and past players no one cares about."

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