Olympics Bans Swim Caps Designed for Black Athletes with Natural Hair [Photos]

Swimming caps designed for natural Black hair — and created by a Black-owned company — will not be allowed at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

via: Today Show

Soul Cap, a British company that makes swim caps to support swimmers with diverse hairstyles, is speaking out after it said the the governing body for water sports competitions did not certify its caps for the Olympics.

“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,” the company wrote in a statement posted on Instagram.

Soul Cap sells four sizes of swim caps to accommodate athletes with long hair, dreadlocks and Afro hairstyles. The largest size, XXL, retails online for $26.49.

“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,” the company wrote. “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.”

FINA, the international governing body for water sports competitions, states in its rules that apparel companies must submit new designs and materials for approval before they are cleared to be used in competition. Referees also have the authority to exclude any competitors who don’t comply with the rules, according to a guidebook posted online by FINA. Soul Cap submitted its application last year before it was denied, according to Yahoo! News.

The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TODAY.

The Black Swimming Association, a nonprofit in the United Kingdom that works to bring more diversity to water sports, said in a statement the group was “extremely disappointed” by the decision. The group also noted that it comes as Alice Dearing, who is a Soul Cap ambassador, will make history as the first Black woman to represent Team Great Britain in swimming at the Olympics.

The decision is “one that we believe will no doubt discourage many younger athletes from ethnic minority backgrounds from pursuing competitive swimming,” the Black Swimming Association wrote on Instagram.

The group also took aim at the reported rationale FINA issued behind its decision to not approve the caps.

The Olympic committee are really showing how behind of the times they are.

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