Soul Cap, a black-owned company that designs swimming caps for natural black hair, has been barred from the Tokyo Olympics this year. The company, which had previously partnered with Alice Dearing, who will be the first black female swimmer to represent Team GB at the Games this year, was rejected by the International Swimming Federation (Fina).
The swimming federation said that the company's caps did not fit "the natural form of the head." To their 'best knowledge,' the company added, "the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration”.
The move confirms "a lack of diversity in (sport), Danielle Obe, the founding member of the Black Swimming Association, told The Guardian.
“We need the space and the volume which products like the Soul Caps allow for. Inclusivity is realising that no one head shape is ‘normal’,” Danielle Obe further said.
Talking to The Guardian, she said that the original swimming cap was designed for Caucasian hair from flowing into the face when swimming, however, those do not work for afro hair that “grows up and defies gravity”.
Danielle Obe added that there are other swim caps available for afro hair but hard to find, which creates a sense of exclusion for black and minority ethnic community members.
Only 2% of regular swimmers in England are black, as 95% of black adults and 80% of black children do not swim, according to Swim England, a sport's governing body. It also says that black children are three times more likely to drown than white children.