Olympics-Basketballer Cambage says Australia "whitewashing" Games promotions

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FILE PHOTO: Australia unveils team uniforms for Tokyo Olympics
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian women's basketballer Liz Cambage has protested at a lack of racial diversity in Olympic photo-shoots of the country's athletes and suggested she might boycott the Tokyo Games if the situation did not change.

Twice Olympian Cambage criticised pictures of Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes taken at sponsors' photo-shoots on her Instagram account.

“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,” Cambage, who was born to a Nigerian father, captioned a photo for underwear sponsor Jockey.

"Also fake tan doesn't equal diversity," she wrote under a photo of athletes posing for Asics, a Japanese sports apparel firm.

The Asics photo shoot included Indigenous Australian rugby sevens player Maurice Longbottom.

"Y'all really do anything to remove POCs (people of colour) from the forefront when it’s black athletes leading the pack.

"Until I see y’all doing more @ausolympicteam imma sit this one out."

She posted a video of Indigenous Australian Cathy Freeman's gold medal-winning 400 metres run at the 2000 Sydney Games and wrote: "Also just to remind you Australia's GREATEST sporting moment was thanks too BLACK INDIGENOUS WOMAN."

Addressing the Jockey photo-shoot, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it acknowledged Cambage's "point".

"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 said in a statement.

"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 29-year-old Cambage, who won a team bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, is in the United States preparing for the upcoming WNBA season with the Las Vegas Aces.

Cambage has been a vocal advocate for social justice causes and a critic of Australia's treatment of Indigenous Australians.

In the leadup to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Cambage called out Australia basketball team mate Alice Kunek for wearing blackface at an end-of-season fancy dress party.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Michael Perry)