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Liz Cambage unleashes on the nation’s ‘diversity issue’ after Olympic committee promo pic

Basketball superstar Liz Cambage has again unleashed on Australia’s ‘whitewashed’ Olympic promotional photos for their lack of diversity in a series of animated Instagram stories after threatening to boycott the Tokyo Games. 

The 29-year-old Aussie, who plays for the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA, earlier on Friday shared two images of athletes approved by the Australian Olympic Committee, which feature just one person of colour. 

‘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,’ she wrote on social media with the hashtag ‘whitewashedaustralia’. 

The comments stirred up a storm of media coverage and comments online, sparking another fiery response from Cambage. 

‘Australia wake the f*** up. I’m not playing these games anymore,’ Cambage said on her Instagram story hours later on Friday evening. 

Cambage (pictured) called upon the Olympic committee to celebrate more diversity among athletes

Cambage let fly on social media on Friday

Cambage let fly on social media on Friday

Cambage let fly on social media on Friday saying Australia’s ‘ignorance’ on racial issues was ’embarrassing’ 

'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,' she wrote on social media with the hashtag 'whitewashedaustralia'

‘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,’ she wrote on social media with the hashtag ‘whitewashedaustralia’

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.’

The Australian Olympic Commitee issued an apology on Friday, however, Cambage questioned why she needed to hold them to account from the other side of the world. 

She added an apology was easy but demanded tangible action from Olympic bosses to represent all races. 

Cambage (pictured) has played internationally since 2011 most recently for the Las Vegas Aces and also has modelling contracts

Cambage (pictured) has played internationally since 2011 most recently for the Las Vegas Aces and also has modelling contracts 

‘Maurice Longbottom I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart the media used you as a tool to defer from the real issue that Australia is so ignorant it’s embarrassing,’ she said.

‘We have a diversity issue, we have an inclusion issue, and we have a visibility issue for kids growing up that don’t see people like them on tv anywhere.

‘And Australia, if you have an issue with my words, you are the issue and you can kiss my black a**’.

The two-time Australian Olympian earlier said she would ‘sit-out’ the Tokyo Games until she felt the inclusion issue was addressed. 

She also shared footage of Cathy Freeman’s famous 400m win at the Sydney Olympics adding one of Australia’s greatest sporting moments involved a woman of colour.   

Cambage, 29, has represented Australia for the past two Olympic Games but claims she will 'sit out' of this year's event because there was not enough diversity in the promotional photo shoots

Cambage, 29, has represented Australia for the past two Olympic Games but claims she will ‘sit out’ of this year’s event because there was not enough diversity in the promotional photo shoots

Cambage (pictured in February 2020) has played in the past two Olympic Games for Australia

Cambage (pictured in February 2020) has played in the past two Olympic Games for Australia

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. 

‘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,’ a spokesperson said. 

Cambage is recognised as one of Australia's best basketballers and plays for the Las Vegas Aces

Cambage is recognised as one of Australia’s best basketballers and plays for the Las Vegas Aces

Cambage is recognised as one of Australia’s best basketballers and has been vocal about racial equality in the past.

During the Black Lives Matter movement she called upon Australians to be more supportive and educated on the issue. 

‘Until you start teaching the real history of Australia, until you start respecting the traditional land owners of this country, you do not care about black lives,’ she said.

‘Until I see more diversity and more inclusion in this country, you do not care about black lives. Go delete the square.’ 

She also said she ‘didn’t feel her worth’ until she left Australia after dealing with years of racism. 

Cambage helped the Australian Opals win bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and gold at the 2018 Commonwealth games. 

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.

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