Coates defends AOC record after 'whitewashing' claims

An image from a promotional photoshoot with team sponsor Jockey released this week showed Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes in sponsored outfits, but did not feature any athletes of colour.

Coates defended the body's broader record on race representation, as the AOC announced it had amended its constitution to ensure a permanent Indigenous representative on the Athletes' Commission.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) John Coates on Saturday conceded a more diverse group of athletes should have been used in an advertisement for a local underwear brand after harsh criticism from two-time Olympian Liz Cambage.

An image from a promotional photoshoot with team sponsor Jockey released this week showed Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes in sponsored outfits, but did not feature any athletes of colour.

Basketball player Cambage launched a scathing attack on social media and suggested she would boycott the Games if the situation did not change.

"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," the 29-year-old, who has a Nigerian father, posted on Instagram.

However, Coates defended the body's broader record on race representation, as the AOC announced it had amended its constitution to ensure a permanent Indigenous representative on the body's Athletes' Commission.

Coates said Cambage's comment "was to do with Jockey, we should have had more diversification in that advertisement.

"I don't think it holds for anything else we do. You've seen the Asics (photo-shoot) and you've seen the emphasis we place on Indigenous," he told reporters after leaving the AOC annual meeting in Sydney.

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Cambage had also criticised the advertisement by the Japanese sports apparel firm, which included Indigenous Australian rugby sevens player Maurice Longbottom.

Cambage had earlier rejected an initial apology from the AOC, calling for more action on diversity.

"We have a diversity issue, we have an inclusion issue, and we have a visibility issue for kids growing up that don't see anyone that looks like them in magazines, on TV, on the news, anywhere," she wrote.

"And Australia, if you have an issue with my words, you are the issue, and you can kiss my black arse.

"And yes I saw the apology. Words don't mean anything to me. Actions mean something to me. So let me see it."

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