Olympic Committee Blocks Athletes From Wearing Black-Owned Swimming Cap Designed for Natural Hair

by Shine My Crown Staff
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FINA, the federation for international competitions in water sports, has denied a Black-owned swimming cap brand certification to be used officially at the Tokyo Olympics.

Soul Cap makes swimming caps specifically for natural Black hair. But the International Olympic Committee denied an application for swim gear brand to certify its products for competition, including the Olympic Games.

According to metro, the FINA committee said to their “best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” adding that the caps don’t follow “the natural form of the head.”

Soul Cap released a statement following FINA’s disappointing decision.

“We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair,” co-founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman said.

“For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial. FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county and national competitive swimming.”

Soul Cap is on a mission to increase diversity in the majority white sport.

“We feel there’s always room for improvement, but there’s only so much grassroots and small brands can do — we need the top to be receptive to positive change. A huge thanks to all who have supported us and our work so far. We don’t see this as a setback, but a chance to open up a dialogue to make a bigger difference.”

And others agree.

“We believe that it confirms a lack of diversity in (the sport),” Danielle Obe, the founding member of the Black Swimming Association, told the Guardian. “Aquatic swimming must do better.”

The IOC banned the use of any apparel-bearing political slogans or symbols on the podium or in the stadium.

The decision follows the results of a survey launched by the IOC in December to 3,547 Olympic athletes regarding Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter — “advertising, demonstrating, and propaganda.”

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