Swim caps designed for natural dark hair will not be allowed at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, with the world’s sports governing body saying they are not suitable because they “do not follow the natural shape of the head.”
British brand Soul Cap has sought to have its products officially recognized by FINA, but its application filed last year was rejected. The company makes extra-large caps designed to protect thick, curly and voluminous hair.
Caps were banned by FINA on the grounds that to their “best knowledge, athletes competing in international events have never used, nor need to use, caps of this size and configuration”.
FINA described the swim caps as inappropriate because they “did not follow the natural shape of the head”.
The Switzerland-based governing body said on Friday it was currently reviewing the situation with Soul Cap and similar products while “understanding the importance of inclusiveness and representation.”
FINA said in the statement that it is committed to ensuring that all aquatic athletes have access to suitable swimwear for competition as long as these swimwear does not provide a competitive advantage.
“We don’t see this as a setback, but a chance to open a dialogue to make a bigger difference in water sports,” tweeted Soul Cap co-founders Toks Ahmed-Salawudeen and Michael Chapman. “A big thank you to everyone who has supported us and supported our work so far. “
The men founded the company in 2017 after meeting a woman with natural dark hair who struggled with her swim cap. According to the company’s website, it has shipped more than 30,000 swim caps to customers around the world.
“For young swimmers, feeling included and seeing themselves in a sport at a young age is crucial,” Ahmed-Salawudeen said in an online article. “There isn’t a lot that small and small brands can do – we need the best to be receptive to positive change. “
Alice Dearing, who will compete in the Tokyo swim marathon as Britain’s only black swimmer, endorses the company’s caps.
“People would tell me my hair was ‘too big’ for the cap – never the cap was too small for my hair,” she said in a blog post on the company’s website. .
FINA stressed on Friday that there are no restrictions on the use of Soul Cap for recreational and educational purposes. He said he appreciates the efforts of the company and other suppliers to make sure people have the chance to enjoy the water.
FINA has announced that it will discuss with Soul Cap officials the use of the company’s products at its development centers located in Dakar, Senegal, and Kazan, Russia.