Aussie basketball star threatens Olympic boycott over 'whitewashed' photo shoots

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Sydney (AFP)

Australian basketball star Liz Cambage Friday hit out at what she claimed was a lack of racial diversity in Australian Olympic team promotional shoots, threatening to boycott the Tokyo Games in protest.

The 29-year-old, a two-time Olympian who is preparing for the new WNBA season with the Las Vegas Aces, took issue with two separate pictures.

One released this week showed athletes from Australia's Olympic and Paralympic teams in apparel supplied by sponsor Jockey, but there was no person of colour.

"If I've said it once I've said it a million times," Cambage, who has a Nigerian father and Australian mother, said in an Instagram story.

"HOW AM I MEANT TO REPRESENT A COUNTRY THAT DOESNT EVEN REPRESENT ME #whitewashedaustralia."

The three-time WNBA All-Star also took aim at a second image showing Australian athletes in their uniforms, saying that "fake tan doesn't equal diversity", despite the picture including Indigenous rugby player Maurice Longbottom.

She indicated she may skip the Tokyo Olympics in July in protest.

"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 you doing more @ausolympicteam imma sit this one out," she wrote.

Cambage, part of the Australian team that won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, then referenced Cathy Freeman's famous 400 metres gold medal run at her home Olympics in Sydney in 2000.

"Also just to remind you Australia's GREATEST sporting moment was thanks too (sic) BLACK INDIGENOUS WOMAN (Freeman)."

The Australian Olympic Committee conceded Cambage had a 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," it 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."

It added that there would be further photo shoots "that reflect our broad diversity of athletes".