The international swimming federation (FINA) will launch a review into the use of ‘soul caps’ and other similar products to ensure they don’t give unfair advantage to the users.
Previously, FINA had banned the use of soul caps for the Tokyo Olympics because they did not “fit the natural form of the head”. The caps, made by UK-based company Soul Cap, cater to swimmers who have long, curly, thick and voluminous hair.
The company came into prominence when Britain’s Alice Dearing became the first black swimmer to gain qualification for the Olympics open water event.
“FINA acknowledges the comments and reactions concerning the use of ‘Soul Cap’ swim caps in FINA competition,” the governing body said in a statement on Saturday, without a specific mention to Olympics.
“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. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation,” the statement added.
The statement comes after FINA’s decision brought heavy criticism from fans and people of the swimming community, who believe that the caps are an important step for promotion of diversity in a sport that has struggled to do so.
Acknowledging the role of the company, the release said that FINA will have a word with them. “There is no restriction on ‘Soul Cap’ swim caps for recreational and teaching purposes. FINA appreciates the efforts of ‘Soul Cap’ and other suppliers to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy the water. FINA will also speak with the manufacturer of the ‘Soul Cap’ about utilising their products through the FINA Development Centres.”
The statement added, “FINA expects to make its consideration of ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products part of wider initiatives aimed at ensuring there are no barriers to participation in swimming, which is both a sport and a vital life skill.”