Athletes who are breastfeeding will now be able to bring their babies to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan later this summer. A decision that was made early Wednesday morning by the Tokyo 2020 organizers.
This year’s Olympic Games are already an unprecedented kind. Having been delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, international guests and spectators will not be allowed to attend—including family members and friends of the athletes competing.
The decision has weighed heavy on many athletes, including breastfeeding mothers who feel they have to decide between being an Olympian or being a mom.
Marathoner Aliphine Tuliamuk, who is currently nursing her 4-month-old daughter Zoe, wrote on Instagram that she didn’t want to have to choose between staying home with her daughter or competing in Tokyo.
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“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,” she wrote. “I had been putting off thinking about Zoe not coming to Tokyo with me for a while now, but I had to start to…Motherhood has made me so vulnerable, I feel like my heart is hanging outside of my body.”
In an emotional Instagram video, Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher echoed that sentiment, saying she was “being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete.”
Ten of the athletes representing the United States in Tokyo are mothers, including sprinter Allyson Felix, and soccer player Alex Morgan.
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In a statement Wednesday, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee praised athletes who are also parents, and announced an exception that will allow breastfeeding babies to accompany their moms to Tokyo.
“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,” said the organization in a statement. “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.”
The statement went on to say that nursing children will not be allowed in the Olympic Village, which is “restricted for all Games participants other than athletes and team officials,” and will instead need to stay in “private accommodation approved by Tokyo 2020.”
According to the International Olympic Committee, nursing mothers who bring their children will also be able to “bring a caretaker or a partner to help them out.”
The IOC said that they were “very pleased to hear that the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has found a special solution” for “mothers who are breastfeeding and their young children.”