Liz Cambage and fellow Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut have engaged in an extraordinary Twitter spat over the ‘whitewashed’ Olympics photos.
Cambage threatened to boycott the Tokyo Olympics when she slammed the lack of racial diversity in Australia’s ‘whitewashed’ Olympics promotional photos
She threatened to sit out the Games unless the issue of racial inclusion was addressed, but soon backflipped and confirmed she would play.
Cambage called Bogut ‘obsessed’ and joked that he fancied her in response to him picking apart her argument on his podcast.
‘Mr Bogut’s obsession with me [is] so strange, it’s been like 10 years of you speaking on my name… if you want me just say that,’ she wrote.
Her post ended with seven laughing and crying emojis, which Bogut used to troll her in a swift response.
‘Could you please not use all yellow emojis and use a more diverse range of emojis next time. Thanks!’ Bogut fired back.
Bogut kicked off the spat when he addressed the ongoing saga on his podcast Rogue Traders on Tuesday
Liz Cambage and Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut have engaged in an extraordinary Twitter spat over the ‘whitewashed’ Olympics photos
Bogut kicked off the war of words when he addressed Cambage’s claims of racial injustice over the photos on his podcast Rogue Traders on Tuesday.
He said though he understood Cambage’s views, her criticism from the other side of the world was poor form.
‘What frustrates me with this is counting the amount of different skin colours in a photo is just poor form,’ Bogut explained on the podcast.
‘It’s a pretty slippery slope once you start counting.
‘Some of our most prominent people of colour that play for Australia, Patty Mills and Ben Simmons, they’re playing in the best league in the world right now, they can’t even come to that photo shoot.
‘I don’t think Cambage can, she’s probably overseas.
‘There’s a lot of different factors that go into it, this is made out like it was a blatant effort to whitewash the photo, to make Australia look white.
‘C’mon. Not in today’s day and age, you’d be an idiot if you’re running the AOC to do that, because you’re going to get blow ups.’
Liz Cambage responded
Cambage, 29, threatened to ‘sit out’ this year’s event because there was not enough diversity in the promotional photo shoots (one pictured)
Liz Cambage (pictured in action) will line up for the Australian Opals at the Tokyo Olympics after threatening to boycott the competition
The NBA champion fears the Cambage saga could affect the Opals’ performance in Tokyo.
‘I can separate off-court with the on-court, but I just don’t think this helps any situation going into an Olympics,’ Bogut said.
‘Playing devil’s advocate, are we now going to have team photos based on population (percentages)?
‘It’s just absolutely ridiculous.’
The war of words was sparked after Bogut hinted at an ulterior motive behind Cambage’s boycott threat.
One of the promotional photo shoots that infuriated Cambage was for underwear company, Jockey.
Cambage fronted an underwear campaign for rival Bonds in 2019.
‘Anyone know who @Jockey’s biggest competitor is?’ Bogut tweeted.
‘Anyone have a list of ambassadors for @jockey’s competitor?
‘Quick tip: Bonds. Now, research time. All make sense yet?’
Bogut’s classy response prompted an outpouring of public support.
‘Some might call this a mic drop, but I’m going with slam dunk. Well played Mr Bogut,’ one fan commented.
Another added’ She is like the primary school kid who threatens to pull out of play time because they aren’t getting enough attention…..”I’m playing baby cause someone threatened to tell my mum.’
Cambage, who lives in the US, backflipped on her threat to boycott the Games and confirmed she would compete in Toyko.
‘For everyone wondering so desperately what my decision is for the Opals, I’m in baby… I’m in,’ she told fans in an Instagram video earlier this week.
‘I’m going to play with my sisters that I’ve been playing with since I was a wee little thing and I’m going to ball out for all those young brown kids back in Australia watching me, baby. I’m going to do it for you.’
The basketball star (pictured) confirmed from her current base in Los Angeles that she will compete at her third Olympics
But the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist vowed to continue speaking out about the lack of racial diversity.
‘There are two people in this world there are the people who have the balls to stand up and say something and make change; that’s me. I was born for this,’ Cambage continued.
‘The second type of people in this world. that’s the people that are intimated and scared and insecure and hide behind fake profiles and talk s**t because you are too scared to do anything.
‘I’m not going to stop for no one or nothing. Have a great day.’
Cambage’s backflip came hours after Opals legend Lauren Jackson said she was confident the star would compete in Tokyo.
When asked on Monday night by reporters if she hoped the issue would be sorted in time for the games, Jackson responded: ‘Hope? I know it will.’
‘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 said.
‘Liz is one of the finest players that we’ve ever had representing us. She has been a core part of the Opals for the past decade, and it would be fitting to see her on the dais in Tokyo.
‘I really hope that she is a part of that group – she is very important to the team.’
Jackson said the Australian Olympic Committee are looking at ‘constitutional change’ and said she supports the right of any person to express their opinions in a respectful manner.
‘Liz has got a platform and it is a very important issue, and I support her fighting to racial inequality,’ she said.
Current Opal Lauren Nicholson added: ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We are an inclusive sport.
‘She obviously adds a lot to the Opals we are just focusing on the Olympics and what we can do to win.’
Andrew Bogut (pictured in action for the Australian Boomers) has clashed with fellow Australian basketball star Liz Cambage over her outspoken views
It’s not the first time Cambage has threatened to boycott over racial issues.
Last year she called for the Aboriginal flag to be included on team uniforms, and for Basketball Australia to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
When she told teammates she wasn’t felling supported, they organised a boycott of team training to support her.
Bogut isn’t the first sporting great to speak out against Cambage’s outspoken views.
Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge also slammed over her threat to sit out the Olympics.
Woodbridge, who won 16 grand slam doubles titles and Olympic gold, said Cambage’s comments showed ‘disrespect’ towards the athletes who were pictured and added he believed she had gone about her public protest in the wrong way.
‘My initial thought was, don’t do it that way,’ Woodbridge said on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday program.
‘Why do it that way? Why do it with the anger and the threats? You cannot threaten to pull out of representing your country, you’ve got the privilege to be there and to do something special.
‘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.
‘I’d say, good on you for standing up for it but there are ways. 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 said on Sunday when responding to Cambage’s comments.
Cambage blasted the lack of visible diversity in Australia’s ‘whitewashed’ Olympics promotional photos
‘If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times. HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESNT EVEN REPRESENT ME,’ Cambage wrote on social media with the hashtag ‘whitewashedaustralia’
Cambage’s former WNBL coach Tom Maher also spoke out against her, claiming it was inappropriate for her to ‘make such a big deal out of pretty much nothing’.
The 29-year-old, who plays for US team Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA, shared two of the images of athletes approved by the Australian Olympic Committee, alongside critical comments blasting them for a lack of diversity.
One of the images shared by Cambage was an ad from Olympic partner and underwear supplier Jockey, which featured white athletes.
The other was an Australian uniform reveal featuring Indigenous Rugby Sevens player Maurice Longbottom which she captioned: ‘fake tan doesn’t equal diversity.’
Following backlash, Cambage said on Friday evening she was clearly not talking about the rugby star.
‘I know who Maurice Longbottom is. I wasn’t saying he had fake tan on – I’m talking about the rest of the photo. One token person of colour in a photo is not good enough AOC,’ she said.
‘The whitewashing is sad. Your black and Indigenous athletes lead [your sporting achievements] and you don’t use them at all.
‘And Jockey Australia you knew exactly what you were doing. You need me to send you a list of all the POC athletes that are trying to make it to the Olympics. That you could use? I could do it and I’m not even in the country.’
Australian basketball star Liz Cambage (pictured) let fly on social media over the country’s Olympic promotional photos which she called ‘whitewashed’
A few hours later, Cambage was back on Instagram hitting out at Olympic officials.
‘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?’ she wrote.
The comments stirred up a storm of media coverage and comments online, sparking another fiery response from Cambage.
‘Australia wake the f**k up. I’m not playing these games anymore,’ Cambage said on her Instagram story hours later on Friday evening.
She continued her tirade on Saturday morning with another series of Instagram stories after her comments from the previous day stirred up a storm of media coverage and online debate.
The AOC said in their apology statement they ‘acknowledged’ the point made by the Cambage.
‘The athletes made available to Jockey could and should have better reflected the rich diversity of athletes who represent Australia at the Olympic Games,’ the statement read.
‘The AOC does however have a very proud history of celebrating and promoting diversity in all its forms. From Indigenous reconciliation, people of colour, gender equality and all forms of diversity, the AOC is rightly proud of its record.’
The committee said there would be further photo shoots to reflect a broader diversity of athletes.
The two-time Olympian later added she would ‘sit-out’ the Tokyo Games until she felt the inclusion issue was addressed
AOC STATEMENT IN FULL
The AOC acknowledges Liz Cambage’s point with regard to this particular photo shoot.
The athletes made available to Jockey could 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. From Indigenous reconciliation, people of colour, gender equality and all forms of diversity, the AOC is rightly proud of its record.
Tomorrow the Annual General Meeting will consider a change to the AOC Constitution which will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island representation on our Athletes’ Commission. Next month we will launch our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan following lengthy consultation with our Indigenous Advisory Committee.
Our Olympic Team for Tokyo, as it did in Rio, will consist of more women than men.
We proudly defend our track record on diversity and there will be further photo shoots that reflect our broad diversity of athletes.
With regard to this photo shoot 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.