Liz Cambage, a four-time WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympian, for the Las Vegas Aces decided to opt-out of the upcoming Olympics set for July 23 until August 8 in Tokyo.

At first, the 29-year-old said dealing with her mental health was the reason, but rumors circulated that her behavior might have played a significant factor.   

Cambage confirmed that she got into a verbal and physical fight with members of the Nigerian basketball team. However, she refused to provide details in her posts if the altercation involved one or two players. 

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 7: Liz Cambage #8 of the Las Vegas Aces handles the ball during the game against the Phoenix Mercury on July 7, 2021 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

“I just want to say this decision was coming, and I’m happy I finally made it on my own terms. Sadly, news got leaked….that I didn’t even know about,” Cambage said on her Instagram and Twitter posts. “Yeah, things got heated in the Nigeria game. There was a physical altercation, and there were words exchanged.”

The incident reportedly occurred during a scrimmage game where both the Australian and Nigerian teams practiced exhibition games as they get ready for the Olympics.

Regarding her mental health, she wrote, “It’s no secret that in the past, I’ve struggled with my mental health, and recently I’ve been really worried about heading into a ‘bubble’ Olympics,” said Cambage, who currently holds the WNBA single-game scoring record with her 53-point performance against the New York Liberty on 17 July 2018. And who averages 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Aces this season. 

She added, “No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me. The past month I’ve been having panic attacks, not sleeping, and not eating.”

Cambage said she takes daily anxiety medication to help her cope.  But for the Olympic games in a few weeks, she still felt a sense of instability getting ready to “[walk] into competition on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”

In a press conference, Vice President of the Australian Olympic Committee Ian Chesterman said, “We’ve been informed by Basketball Australia that they’re investigating an issue. We have not received any further reporting except for that.”

Cambage has been outspoken about racial issues.  In May of this year, she threatened to boycott the Tokyo Olympics after expressing outrage against the lack of racial diversity in promotional photos of the Australian Olympic team.

As to her decision to pull out of the Olympics,  Chesterman said, “Liz has made a great contribution to the Australian Olympic Team over two Olympic Games campaigns. We respect her decision and wish her the best in returning to full health.”

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