A section of the members of the European Parliament have accused the Olympics community including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of “institutional structures and rules that exclude people of colour and Black women specifically.”
The Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the European Parliament wrote a letter to Sebastian Coe and Thomas Bach the presidents of World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stating that the effective banning of ‘Soul Cap’ at the international tournaments by the International Swimming Federation. They stated that this “reflects stigmatisation of Black hair and leads to institutional inequalities, especially targeting Black women.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Soul Cap early this month. The caps are used by women with voluminous, thick and curly hair to prevent it from disrupting the view of athletes while swimming.
Soul Cap – British Company- issued a media statement over the weekend saying that they refuse d to approve the swim caps designd for “thick, curly and voluminous hair” allegedly because they do not “follow the natural form of the head,”
The European politicians wrote a letter to the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the EU Parliament and directed that the ban should be lifted citing that Olympics is designed to be an equal opportunity and fair play games.
The IOC admits that the rules are of an “exclusionary nature” and there is need to “establish frameworks and policies to prevent similar cases of exclusion.”
The sports governing bodies should know that the European Union “is based on values of equality and non-discrimination” and that the EU bloc is committed to promoting openness and fairness in all sporting competitions.
The Dutch member of parliament, Samira Rafaela, said: “[FINA is] refusing to allow Soul Cap caps and the attached reasoning reflects nothing but ignorance and racism … Our call to the IOC is simple: This can’t be the intention of the rules, so it’s about time to change the rules.”
The letter further criticizes the international sports community beyond the ban on the Soul Cap, stating that the “stigmatization of Black women and their bodies is not a new phenomenon.”
They highlighted the case of two women. The 18-year-olds cisgender sprinters from Namibia, Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma who were banned from women’s 400 meter race due to their natural testosterone levels being too high for women sports.
“Mboma and Masilingi are only able to join the Olympics if they agree to take drugs to lower their natural testosterone levels,” the letter says.
“If the IOC does not take its responsibility to guarantee an inclusive and anti-racist sport, politicians should remind them. It is 2021, rules and legislation based on stereotypes must be changed. This is the only way to make sports, really, for everyone.”
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