Allow Inclusive Swim Caps at the 2021 Olympics

Allow Inclusive Swim Caps at the 2021 Olympics

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Sarah MacDonald started this petition to Federation Internationale de Natation

In a recent decision, the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) barred a brand of swim cap designed for voluminous hair from the Olympics. Soul Cap, designed with minority swimmers in mind, serves a historically excluded population by making competitive swimming more accessible.

This decision by FINA further marginalizes individuals with thick, curly, and voluminous hair. Specifically, it disproportionately affects Black individuals and other POC. FINA cites their reasons for the ban as follows:

1. The caps are "unsuitable due to them not ‘following the natural form of the head’."

and

2. That to FINA's "best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration."

On the first point, it is important to recognize that "the natural form of the head" differs from person to person, and that "long-hair caps" and "dome caps" could also be considered "unnatural" shapes.

On the second point, just because FINA hasn't seen it happening does not mean it should not. Swim clubs worldwide see increased membership after every Olympic Games, and perhaps if there was representation of people with voluminous hair wearing specialized caps at that level, more children with similar hair would see the sport as accessible to them and consider joining the sport themselves.

As a final point, it should be noted that caps like Soul Cap's provide no unfair advantage. It is entirely reasonable and expected when swimming equipment gets barred from competition for offering an unfair advantage (like the full-body racing suits of ten years ago), but banning a swim cap that seeks only to provide options to historically excluded individuals in our sport is discriminatory.

We urge FINA to reconsider this decision with this information in mind ahead of the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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