The Tokyo Olympics is receiving backlash before it even begins.
On the heels of Sha’Carri Richardson’s controversial disqualification from the Summer Games for a positive marijuana test, the Federation for International Competitions in Water Sports (FINA) banned the use of swim caps made by Black-owned British brand Soul Cap and billed as “haircare for the volume-blessed”:
According to BBC News, Soul Cap sent an application to FINA “to be certified to use at competitions.”
“Soul Cap makes swimming caps to fit over and protect dreadlocks, afros, weaves, hair extensions, braids, and thick and curly hair,” the outlet added.
The revolutionary company’s founders publicly addressed the ruling by calling for change:
On Instagram, Soul Cap took aim at the overarching issues at every level of swimming that exclude swimmers made to feel like they have to “choose between the sport they love and their hair”:
Read the full caption below:
“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.
“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.
“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.
“A huge thanks to all who have supported us and our work so far. We don’t see this as a setback, but a chance to open up a dialogue to make a bigger difference.”
Soul Cap counts Alice Dearing as an ambassador, and the 24-year-old recently became the first Black female swimmer to make the Olympics for Great Britain:
The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for last summer before the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement, will officially begin with the Opening Ceremony on July 23.
Megan Armstrong (@megankarmstrong) is a writer with previous work appearing in places such as Billboard, Bleacher Report, GQ and others. She’s most interested in writing about people and how they live their lives, through the framework of music, entertainment and sports.