Many athletes who are nursing babies had complained that they were being forced to choose between the event and their babies.
Athletes who are breastfeeding their children will be able to bring their kids along with them while competing at the Tokyo Olympics later this month. Previously, as per strict coronavirus safety protocols, event organizers had told athletes that they weren't allowed to bring any family and friends. The event organizers had decided that a safety bubble was to created to ensure the smooth running of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The organizers confirmed on Wednesday that they were making an exception for athletes who were breastfeeding their children after concerned moms spoke up about the issue, reported PEOPLE.
"Given that the Tokyo 2020 Games will take place during a pandemic, overall we must, unfortunately, decline to permit athletes' family members or other companions to accompany them to the Games. However, after careful consideration of the unique situation facing athletes with nursing children, we are pleased to confirm that, when necessary, nursing children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan," read a statement released by event organizers. They added that athletes will be given "private accommodation" and that kids will not be allowed in the Olympic or Paralympic Village, where it's only for approved athletes and teams. The International Olympic Committee also confirmed that Olympians can "bring a caretaker or a partner to help them out."
Still not sure what "when necessary" even means. Is that determined by the mother or the IOC? We are Olympic mothers telling you, it is NECESSARY. I have not been contacted about being able to bring my daughter with me to Japan and we leave in 7 days. #Tokyo2020 #USWNT #TeamUSA https://t.co/cNGMt8w0Ss— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) June 30, 2021
Initially, when the coronavirus protocols were announced, many athletes who are also moms raised issue, citing that they needed to be with their baby during the nursing stage. A few athletes said that they were being forced to choose between participating at the Olympics and staying with their kids during the nursing stage. Long-distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk said she couldn't imagine being away from her daughter Zoe. "I have been working my butt off since having my daughter, I want to produce the best result possible, my long runs and workouts are coming together nicely, body is holding together well," said Tuliamuk. "I had been putting off thinking about Zoe not coming to Tokyo with me for a while now. I have cried a lot since. I can't even imagine being away from her for half a day. My throat is lumpy," she said. Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher, who's currently breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter Sophie, had posted a video making a plea to change the rules earlier.
American soccer star Alex Morgan spoke out at the time and said the decision from the committee was really disappointing. She had given birth to a daughter in May 2020. "I'm still holding out hope till the very last day," said the World cup winner at the time. "I haven't been without my daughter for more than three days since she was born, given that she's only 13 months old. So it would be an incredibly difficult time as a new mom to be going to the Olympics without her." Morgan added that she was aware of the circumstances but still called on the committee to factor in new Moms. "I completely understand that right now the goal is to save lives. I think as of right now, it is really disappointing, but I also am trying to understand the entirety of the Olympics still even being able to occur during a pandemic," she added.
Morgan also responded to the changes but said there was still confusion given the vague wording of the new policy. The committee had stated, "when necessary, nursing children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan." Morgan immediately took to Twitter and asked, "Still not sure what 'when necessary' even means. Is that determined by the mother or the IOC (International Olympic Committee)?" asked Morgan on Twitter. "We are Olympic mothers telling you, it is NECESSARY. I have not been contacted about being able to bring my daughter with me to Japan and we leave in seven days."