The Story of The Olympic committee banning Swim Caps during the Olympics - Fan Arch

The Story of The Olympic committee banning Swim Caps during the Olympics

The Story of The Olympic committee banning Swim Caps duri...

The controversy surrounding the ban on swim caps designed for natural black hair during the Olympics has sparked a global conversation, shedding light on the issue of inclusivity and representation in sports.

Olympic Committee's Initial Ban

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) faced backlash over its decision to ban the Soul Cap, a swim cap designed for natural black hair, from being used in competitions, including the Olympics. The ban was based on the claim that the swim cap did not follow "the natural form of the head".

Backlash and Advocacy

Athlete Advocacy

Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing, an ambassador for Soul Cap, wrote an essay expressing her frustration with the ban, highlighting how it put Black swimmers at a disadvantage and could discourage future generations of aspiring swimmers. Dearing emphasized the importance of inclusivity in sports, stating, "We cannot allow younger generations to look at a sport and think, for whatever reason, 'that's not for people like me'".

Public Outcry

The ban prompted public outrage, leading to the creation of a petition expressing outrage about racial discrimination and a social media campaign with the hashtag #SoulCapInTokyo to show solidarity for Black swimmers.

Reversal of the Ban

FINA's Reversal

In a significant turn of events, FINA reversed its decision and announced that the Soul Cap would be an approved accessory for athletes going forward. This decision came after acknowledging "the comments and reactions" and expressing commitment to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition without conferring a competitive advantage.

Impact and Significance

The reversal of the ban was hailed as a "seismic" change, with Olympian Alice Dearing expressing relief and excitement, recognizing the broader impact it would have, particularly for the Black community and future generations of swimmers.

Soul Cap and its Mission

Founding of Soul Cap

The Soul Cap was invented in 2017 by Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed-Salawudeen in Britain after they noticed the challenges faced by Black swimmers with thicker, curlier hair textures. They developed the swim cap to accommodate various natural hairstyles, such as braids, locs, and Afros.

Advocating for Inclusivity

The co-founders of Soul Cap aimed to promote diversity in swimming, advocating for the approval of their swim caps for competition to ensure that swimmers at any level do not have to choose between the sport they love and their hair. They highlighted the importance of inclusivity and representation, especially for younger swimmers, emphasizing that feeling included and seeing oneself in a sport at a young age is crucial.

Global Response

Public Support and Advocacy

The ban on the Soul Cap galvanized global support, with a Change.org petition gaining over 70,000 signatures calling for the ban to be lifted. Additionally, the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the European Parliament sent a letter calling for the ban to be lifted, citing institutional structures and rules that exclude people of color and Black women specifically.

Media Coverage and Advocacy

The issue received extensive media coverage, shedding light on the broader implications of the ban and sparking conversations about racial discrimination and representation in sports. Athletes, advocates, and the broader public voiced their support for inclusivity and diversity in swimming.

The ban on swim caps designed for natural black hair during the Olympics sparked a global conversation about inclusivity and representation in sports. The subsequent reversal of the ban marked a significant step towards promoting diversity and ensuring that all athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition. This story serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing barriers to participation and fostering inclusivity in sports at all levels.


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