Swimming caps designed for natural dark hair will not be permitted at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Soul Cap, a British black-owned company, created their extra-large swim caps to fit various hair types, especially for black women with thick, curly hair.
According to Soul Cap, following the group’s rejection of the company’s request for their products to be officially recognized at a competitive level, the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) said the caps do not follow “the natural shape of the head”. The company told the BBC that FINA claimed that to their “best knowledge, athletes competing in international events have never used, nor need … caps of this size and configuration.” FINA has neither confirmed nor denied the alleged quotes to the BBC.
“We were hoping to continue our work for diversity in swimming by getting our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers of all skill levels don’t have to choose between the sport they love and theirs,” Toks said. Ahmed and Michael Chapman, co-founders of Soul Cap. wrote in a statement shared on Instagram on Wednesday.
The co-founders went on to highlight the potential consequences of FINA’s recent ban on in-competition Soul Cap products, saying it “could discourage many young athletes from playing the sport as they progress into local, regional competitive swimming. and national ”.
The FINA ruling affects swimmers not only at the Olympics, but also locally, banning caps in local, regional and national competitions.
Since its inception in 2017, Soul Cap has supplied 30,000 caps to swimmers around the world, according to the company’s website. The brand recently teamed up with Alice Dearing, who qualified last week as the first black swimmer to represent Britain at the Olympics.
In response to the reaction, FINA issued a statement that it was reviewing Soul Cap for use in competition, saying it “acknowledges the comments and the reactions.”
“FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatic athletes have access to appropriate swimsuits for competitions where these swimsuits do not confer a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusiveness and representation, ”the statement continued.