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WNBA Star Liz Cambage Slams Australian Olympic Committee for 'Whitewashed' Apparel Campaign

·5-min read

Chris Hyde/Getty

Australian basketball player Liz Cambage criticized a recent photo shoot involving the Australian Olympic Committee's partner, Jockey.

The athlete, 29, plays for the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces and Australia's Southside Flyers.

On Thursday, Cambage reposted a photo from Jockey Australia on her Instagram Stories that debuted the partnership between the brand and the Australian Olympic Committee.

The image featured various athletes, however, none of them appeared to be people of color.

"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 #whitewashedaustralia," she wrote in a since-expired post, according to USA Today.

Ethan Miller/Getty

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Cambage — who was born in London to a Nigerian father and white Australian mother — added, "Y'all really do anything to remove POCs from the forefront when it's black athletes leading the pack. Until I see you doing more @ausolympicteam imma sit this one out."

The athlete, who competed on the Australian Olympic team in 2012, also commented on Jockey's Instagram underneath the photo, writing, "Yay more whitewashed campaigns."

The Australian Olympic Committee later issued a statement in response, saying that it "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 committee said. "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 statement continued, "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."

"We proudly defend our track record on diversity and there will be further photoshoots that reflect our broad diversity of athletes," the organization vowed.

When reached for comment, a Jockey spokesperson directed PEOPLE to a statement on the company's website, which read in part: "For 145 years, Jockey International has been a leader in responsibility when it comes to actively supporting the various ethnicities, races and backgrounds of communities and individuals in more than 140 countries around the globe, including Australia."

"Hanes Australasia, our licensing partner in Australia and New Zealand, in a sponsorship of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams, conducted a recent promotional photo shoot. The athletes for the photo shoot were provided by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). Our licensee should have been proactive in requesting a broader group of athletes for the shoot. That action would have been more reflective of the diversity of both Australian teams and Jockey's brand values. We take this matter very seriously and are currently evaluating all of our options."

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Cambage also took aim at another photo shoot from March of the unveiling of the Australian Olympic uniforms.

With the exception of Indigenous rugby player Maurice Longbottom, who wore an Olympic shirt featuring Aboriginal artwork, the photo only featured white athletes.

"Fake tan doesn't equal diversity," she wrote on her Instagram Stories, per USA Today.

Cambage later specified in a video that the "fake tan" comment was not directed at Longbottom.

"I wasn't saying he had a fake tan on, I'm talking about the rest of the photo. One token POC in a photo is not good enough," she said in a clip on her Instagram Stories.

The Aces player later added, "To Mr. Longbottom, I'm sorry that you got caught up in this. I did not think you had a fake tan on. I was never saying that. I was saying that for the rest of the photo. One POC in a photo is not good enough for me."

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"It's sad, the whitewashing is sad," Cambage went on to say.

The WNBA star continued, "Your Black athletes lead you everywhere. Indigenous athletes are some of the best athletes we have, 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 right now that you could use? I can do it!" she said.

Cambage added, "I shouldn't have to hold the Australian Olympic Committee and their partners accountable from the other side of the world."

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The WNBA player then acknowledged the Australian Olympic Committee's statement and said, "Yes, I saw the apology. Words don't mean anything to me. Actions mean something to me. So, let me see it."

Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic Games from July 23 through August 16, 2021.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer on NBC.

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