Afro Hair Swim Cap Ban Under Consideration Following Backlash
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) is expected to reconsider its decision to ban swim caps specifically designed for black swimmers at the Tokyo Olympics.
FINA announced June 30 that Olympic athletes are banned from wearing the swim cap brand “Soul Cap” that designs hats to suit dreadlocks, afros, weaves and braids, Metro reported. The federation announced its intention to reconsider the decision emphasizing the importance of “inclusivity and representation” in a statement Friday.
“FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage,” the statement said. “FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to “Soul Cap” and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”
FINA will converse with Soul Cap about using the caps at FINA development centers that train swimmers, the statement said. Soul Cap’s founders Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed-Salawudeen criticized FINA’s decision saying it will lead swimmers to “choose between the sport they love and their hair,” BBC reported Friday. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez: Dropping Sha’Carri Richardson For Failing Drug Test Is ‘An Instrument Of Racist And Colonial Policy’)
The announcement followed widespread backlash over the decision. Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson criticized the ban, saying that swim caps cannot fit over “thick, long curly hair” in a tweet Friday.
“So let me get this straight. @fina1908 banning this cap because “it doesn’t conform to natural curvature of the head,”‘ the tweet said. “HTF [how the fuck] are you supposed to fit a cap that does that if you have thick long curly hair? Come on! Do better! #Soulcap.”
Let me get this straight. @fina1908 banning this cap because “it doesn’t conform to natural curvature of the head” HTF are you supposed to fit a cap that does that if you have thick long curly hair? Come on! Do better! #Soulcap https://t.co/LXTbFWFgIh
— Michael Johnson (@MJGold) July 2, 2021
Swim England, Great Britain’s national governing body for swimming, announced that athletes will be permitted to wear Soul Cap in domestic competitions in order to reduce “barriers” amongst “under-represented” swimmers in a Thursday statement.
“Swimming hats designed for afro hair can reduce barriers to the sport for under-represented groups, including black people,” the statement said.
The International Olympic Committee has also received backlash for suspending track runner Sha’Carri Richardson from running the 100m after testing positive for marijuana.