With the Olympics being one of the most important events in the entire country, it has a very strict set of rules and guidelines in place to ensure that the events are fairly judged and that each athlete has a fair advantage. However, one recent ruling that Olympic officials have made might not be as fair as one might think.
Not too long ago, the Olympics announced the ban of “Soul Caps”, a brand of swim caps designed specifically to cater to the needs of Black swimmers. The brand company specialized in extra-large swimming caps, which helped in protecting the thick, curly natural hair, as well as the protective hairstyles (like dreadlocks, braids, and weaves) from getting wet.
However, members of FINA, the international governing board of swimming, rejected the use of Soul Caps during this year’s Tokyo Olympics, saying that the caps don’t follow the “natural form of the head”, and ergo, aren’t suitable for use during the swimming events.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people, specifically people of color, are understandably upset. While it would be understandable if the Olympics simply didn’t want some athletes to have an unfair advantage over other athletes, that’s the real kicker: officials did not give a valid reason or explanation about whether Soul Caps would give swimmers an advantage or not. They simply made an announcement that they weren’t allowed, and that was the final word.
People are calling the ruling a blatant display of “scientific racism”. Why is that? Because Soul Caps were only being used by a certain group of people: Black people. They would be the only people who would suffer from the ban, as they would have no way to protect their natural hair.
FINA’s official statement of the matter only seemed to make things worse, as they went on to say that the reason for their ruling was that elite athletes have “never used, neither require to use, caps of such size.”
This is a very damaging way of stating their point, as FINA’s wording only goes to suggest that their idea of an “elite athlete” doesn’t match the characteristics of a person of color, thereby cementing the theory that their decision was based on racial standing alone, without any form of valid scientific evidence.
This ruling could have also have a dangerous ripple effect on the future diversification of the Olympic swimming circuit, as this decision could end up discouraging young and aspiring Black athletes from competing in the sport at all.
Other recent events of Black athletes being targeting include Sha’Carri Richardson being disqualified from the games because of a false cannabis test, as well as runners Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi being disqualified from the 400m event for having testosterone levels that surpassed International Olympics Committee regulations, so a ruling like this isn’t exactly new material, but that is no reason to not still be understandably upset about a development like this.
the Olympics are supposed to signify togetherness as athletes compete to represent their countries, but a ruling like this will only hurt our future Olympic events, as will as widen the already-wide gap between different races.