Swimming caps designed to encourage Afro swimmers with lengthy, thick and voluminous hair to pursue their sport with out limitations have been banned to be used within the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The Worldwide Swimming Federation mentioned the caps, made by the Black-owned British model Soul Cap, don’t “match the pure kind of the top” and to their “finest data the athletes competing on the worldwide occasions by no means used, neither require … caps of such measurement and configuration.”
The corporate, which beforehand partnered with Alice Dearing, the primary Black swimmer to symbolize Nice Britain on the Video games, has been outspoken concerning the subject.
“For youthful swimmers, feeling included and seeing your self in a sport at a younger age is essential,” Soul Cap co-founder Toks Ahmed wrote in an Instagram post. “FINA’S current dismissal may discourage many youthful athletes from pursuing the game as they progress by native, county and nationwide aggressive swimming.”
Danielle Obe, the founding member of the Black Swimming Affiliation, advised The Guardian the ban has “created a way of exclusion for members of the black and minority ethnic neighborhood,” as different swim caps for Afro hair are troublesome to seek out.
“If the (official swimming our bodies) are speaking about illustration, they should communicate to the communities to seek out out what the limitations are which can be stopping us from partaking,” Obe mentioned. “Hair is a big subject for our neighborhood.”
Noliwe Rooks, the chair of and a professor of Africana Research at Brown College, advised USA TODAY that the swim cap ban matches with many different bans associated to Black hair.
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“Whereas this ban doesn’t particularly discuss particular Black hairstyles by way of a ban, as have earlier bans from the U.S. army and numerous company considerations and workplaces, this ruling disregards the wants of Black ladies to guard their hair and their hairstyles once they swim,” Rooks mentioned.
The ban, she mentioned, seems to be primarily based on a lack of expertise concerning the density or thickness of Black hair.
“The ruling particularly talked about the truth that Soul Caps don’t hug the scalp, however Black hair doesn’t essentially lay flat towards the scalp, and likewise can have a thickness that makes it not possible to maintain a conventional swim cap from filling with water because the athlete swims,” Rooks mentioned.
In a statement, FINA mentioned it “is at present reviewing the state of affairs with reference to ‘Soul Cap’ and comparable merchandise, understanding the significance of inclusivity and illustration.”