The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has banned swimming caps designed for natural Black hair at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, claiming that to their best knowledge, “the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration.”
The extra large size caps, made by Black-owned British company Soul Cap, are designed for people with thick and curly hair, braids, and dreadlocks that don’t fit in standard size swimming caps.
Soul Cap, which is known for its previous partnership with Black British Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing, has been outspoken about why the decision is unfair. “For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial,” Soul Cap co-founder Toks Ahmed wrote in a recent Instagram post. “FINA’S recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county, and national competitive swimming.”
The ban seems to be based on a lack of understanding about Black hair and contributes to a pattern of punishing Black women for their hairstyles. Read more here.