Udayavni Special

Why swimming caps designed for natural Black hair have been banned at Olympics?


Team Udayavani, Jul 4, 2021, 6:23 PM IST

Swimming caps designed by Soul Cap for natural Black hair that’s thicker and voluminous aren’t allowed at Tokyo Olympics.

The International Swimming Federation has rejected the use of swimming caps designed for natural Black hair made by Black-owned British brand Soul Cap at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

FINA claims that they’re “unsuitable” and don’t fit “natural form of head”. It said to its “best knowledge, athletes competing at international events never used, neither require caps of such configuration”.

Many Black swimmers, however, have expressed disappointment towards the ban, describing it as a barrier to entry and form of exclusion.

Soul Cap sent an application to FINA “to be certified to use at competitions.” Soul Cap makes swimming caps to fit over and protect dreadlocks, afros, weaves, hair extensions, braids, and thick and curly hair.

However, The international swimming federation (FINA) now said that it will launch a review into the use of ‘soul caps’ and other similar products to ensure they don’t give an unfair advantage to the users.

In a statement, FINA said, “FINA acknowledges the comments and reactions concerning the use of ‘Soul Cap’ swim caps in FINA competition. There is no restriction on ‘Soul Cap’ swim caps for recreational and teaching purposes. FINA appreciates the efforts of ‘Soul Cap’ and other suppliers to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy the water. FINA will also speak with the manufacturer of the ‘Soul Cap’ about utilising their products through the FINA Development Centre.”

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