Serena Williams also opted to not participate in this years’ Olympics.
Furthermore, the battle against women being banned over high testosterone levels continues. In 2019, South African runner Caster Semenya lost her appeal against the rule that states she must take medication to lower her testosterone levels despite her intersex condition. Now Namibian sprinters, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, have been ruled ineligible to compete in the women’s 400m at the Tokyo Olympics due to naturally high testosterone levels.
Last week, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) denied Soul Cap, a swimming cap designed to protect Afro-textured hair in the water from being used at this years’ Olympics.
Racial disparities in swimming date back to the 1920s and 1930s and the segregation of public pools. The USA Swimming Foundation says nearly 64% of African American children don’t learn how to swim, compared to 40% of White children.
Only two of the 26 women on the US Olympic swim team are Black, including Simone Manuel, who is the first African American female swimmer to win an individual gold medal.
After backlash and discussions of a lack of inclusivity in swimming, FINA is now revisiting the decision after originally stating that the cap doesn’t fit “the natural form of the head”.
All of these instances raise the question of why Black women have to face so many obstacles just to compete in the sport they are great at. It seems like every way they turn people are destined to find a way to stop them from achieving greatness.
Despite all that, Black women will continue to show why inclusivity matters all while being themselves and excelling at the 2021 Olympics with athletes like Simone Biles, who has managed to succeed despite being penalized for being too athletic, Simone Manuel, and three-time World Champion Allyson Felix, who is competing in her first Olympic games since becoming a mom.