Olympic ban on swimming caps designed for afro hair being reviewed after backlash

The International Swimming Federation is reviewing the ban on caps designed for afro hair after facing backlash. 

Last week, the International Swimming Federation(FINA) rejected a Black-owned British company’s request to be approved for competitive international swimming. The company called Soul Cap specializes in making swimming hats large enough to fit afro hair.

As per Unilad, FINA’s position supporting their rejection was that “the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration.” 

Following the federation’s decision, which faced severe criticism on social media, Soul Cap’s co-founders claimed the ban represented a “failure to acknowledge the diversity of competitive swimmers.”

In a bid to tackle the backlash, FINA is now “reviewing the situation,” BBC reports. Claiming they were aware of “the importance of inclusivity and representation,” the swimming’s governing body said in a statement:

“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.”

Meanwhile, people have been speaking out about the federation’s initial decision to ban the afro hair swimming caps. Many believe FINA is limiting Black competitors.

Speaking to The Guardian, Danielle Obe, a co-founder of the Black Swimming Association, said:

“Hair is a significant issue for our community. We need the space and the volume which products like the Soul Caps allow for. Inclusivity is realizing that no one head shape is ‘normal’.”

In a recent Instagram story, Soul Cap co-founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman stated:

“We are overwhelmed and so thankful for the ongoing response and support.

We have seen numerous petitions and open letters regarding the recent rejection of SOUL CAP for competition swimming.

We are happy to confirm we are working closely with swim clubs, grassroots organizations, government bodies and equality in sport charities on the wider issues surrounding this situation.

We value all of your voices and are working behind the scenes to create a space for everyone to come together as a collective.”

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