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SVGOC leads ‘Soul Cap’ ban objection

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A decision by the world governing body of Swimming, FINA, to ban the use of the “Soul Cap” in competition, has led to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee (SVGOC) vehemently taking offence to the decision.

And the SVGOC, acting on behalf of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Swimming Federation (SVGSF), has written to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), requesting the “Soul Cap” reinstatement.

A letter written by General Secretary of the SVGOC Keith Joseph to Dere Piro, the Deputy General Secretary of the IOC, lamented the discrimination, especially to “black athletes”.

The July 2, 2021 letter to Piro outlined: “Our understanding of the Fundamental Principles of the IOC’s Charter speaks to a vehement rejection of discrimination of any sort in the field of sport. Unfortunately, our interpretation of the aforementioned ban on a cap that adequately addresses the hair and hairstyles of black athletes in particular, constitutes a breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement”.

The Soul Cap was specially designed to take the shape of the hairstyle of the users, hence black swimmers with Rasta and other creative hairstyles would be affected by the ban.

Joseph emphasised in the letter, “There is no scientific basis on which to justify FINA’s action. That FINA dares to state that the ‘Soul Cap’ does not follow “the natural form of the head” must be seen for the discrimination that it really is”.

The SVGOC General Secretary thus refers to the ban exposing FINA’s integrity.

“It exposes the organisation’s seemingly inherent bias… In today’s world, we continue to see signs of a resurgence of systemic racism evidenced in newer, yet sinister forms… Our analysis suggests very strongly that the decision of FINA to ban the ‘Soul Caps’ falls within the growing tendency to infringe on the rights of individual athletes of a particular ethnic grouping which has been using it for their unique circumstances,” the letter of protest reasoned.

The SVGOC, in its advocacy concluded: “We, therefore, request an urgent analysis of the situation and urge the rejection of the decision by FINA, thereby ensuring that it is not implemented at this year’s Olympics and in the sport itself under any circumstance”.

This year’s Olympics is set for July 23 to August 8.

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