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Does Racism Really Exist in the Olympics?

Some of the policies of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are becoming more and more outdated. Unfortunately, there have been several cases this year of what seems like an old way of thinking from the IOC. With the recent cases of Sha’Carri Richardson’s elimination and the banning of an Afro swim cap, people wonder if there is racism in the Olympics.

Runner Sha’Carri Richardson

One case that recently garnered attention in the U.S. is the suspension of Sha’Carri Richardson, the fastest woman in America. Richardson was banned from participating in the games after using cannabis. The rules state that the recreational use of cannabis is not allowed for athletes, but with the negative reaction from fans and athletes alike, people are wondering if it’s time to change that policy.

A petition is going around that urges the IOC to allow Richardson to run in the Tokyo games. The petition states that the policy against marijuana perpetuates a cycle of systematic racism from the IOC, and it currently has over 500,000 signatures. They claim “recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years” and “that the enforcement of this policy against a woman of color is highly reflective of the lasting racial effects of the war on drugs.”

Afro swim caps

This is not the only time this year that the IOC has been accused of systematic racism. They also banned a specific type of Afro swim cap. The “Soul Cap,” designed for Black athletes with thicker and more voluminous hair, was banned because it was deemed “unsuitable” by the International Swimming Federation (FINA). Their reason was to their “best knowledge the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration.” Their decision is now under review.

So what do you think? Should the IOC acknowledge the marijuana is not giving athletes a competitive advantage and allow Richardson to compete? Combined with the banning of the Soul Cap, are we seeing racism in the Olympics? Where do we go from here? Let us know in the comments below. 

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