Liz Cambage backtracks on Olympic boycott over ‘white-washing’ of photos

Australian basketball star Liz Cambage has backtracked on threats to boycott the Tokyo Olympics in a racially based protest. The Opals’ star centre has confirmed she will play at the Tokyo Games after last week accusing Australia’s Olympic fraternity of “white-washing” after a photo shoot lacking racial diversity.

Cambage, born to a Nigerian father, took umbrage with photos of predominantly white Australian Olympians, saying people of colour had been marginalised and she would “sit this one out”, referring to the Tokyo Games. But the 29-year-old now says she will compete at her third Olympics in Tokyo.

“For everyone wondering so desperately what my decision is for the Opals, I’m in, baby … I’m in,” Cambage said in an Instagram post. “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 Australian Olympic Committee conceded there was some merit to Cambage’s criticism of a pre-Games photo shoot for the brand Jockey, which is the official underwear supplier to the Australian Olympic team. She was also critical of a photo of the AOC’s team uniform launch, in which rugby player Maurice Longbottom was the sole Indigenous Olympian included.

Last week, Cambage posted on Instagram: “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. Australia, wake the fuck up. I’m not playing these games no more, I’m not. It’s sad, the whitewashing is sad. Your black athletes lead you everywhere. Indigenous athletes are some of the best athletes we have. An y’all don’t use them at all.”

Cambage, a long-time advocate for social justice causes, said in her latest post that made no apologies for speaking out. “There’s the people who have the balls to stand up and say something and make change,” she wrote. “That’s me. I was born for this … I am such a narcissist. All the hate that you give me, I love it. It makes me go harder. It makes me push for more.”