Australian basketballer and two-time Olympian Liz Cambage has threatened to boycott the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, and is calling for better representation of racially diverse Olympic athletes.
It comes after the Australian Olympic Committee released promotional material that Cambage said failed to include enough athletes of colour.
Cambage, who plays for national team the Opals, took to her social media accounts to express her frustration over the advertising campaigns.
“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 underneath a promotional photo for Jockey, who have been announced as the official underwear supplier of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams.
A promotional photo unveiling the Tokyo 2020 Olympic uniform was also shared by the two-time Olympian with the phrase "also fake tan doesn't equal diversity".
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) agreed Cambage had a valid point, saying in a statement that their history of supporting racially diverse athletes was not reflected in the promotional photos.
“The athletes made available to Jockey could have and should have better reflected the rich diversity of athletes who represent Australia at the Olympic Games,” said the AOC statement.
Several high profile Australian sporting figures have reacted negatively to Cambage's sentiments, but the WNBA superstar was not backing down.
“I do not care for a white man’s opinion on racial issues. Never have never will,” read one social media post, followed by a screen shot revealing she had received numerous threats and abuse online.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have maintained a ban on human rights protests, including taking the knee on the podium, at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
A survey of 3547 athletes from 185 countries agreed official ceremonies and the field of play was an inappropriate stage for such protests.
Cambage argued that the Australian Olympic Team was attempting to "remove" people of colour from photos.
"Ya’ll really do anything to remove POCs from the forefront when it's black athletes leading the pack," Cambage wrote.
She concluded by threatening not to compete until she sees an improvement.
"Until I see you doing more @ausolympicteam imma sit this one out," said Cambage.
Cambage’s remarks have been backed by basketballer Lauren Jackson, who has been named the most famous basketballer in Australia, after first representing the country with the Opals at just 16.
Jackson defended Liz’s right to her opinion and said she hopes Cambage is alongside the team when they compete in a couple of months’ time.
“Liz is one of the finest players that we’ve ever had representing us,” Jackson said
“The Opals are ranked second in the world and have a really great opportunity to claim the gold medal, in both Tokyo and the World Cup next year. I really hope that she is a part of that group, she is very important to the team,” said Lauren Jackson.
The final squad for the Australian basketball team will be announced in July, with Cambage expected to be named.