Initially, COVID restrictions wouldn't allow nursing athletes to bring their babies to the games.
Organizers for the Tokyo Olympics will now permit athletes who are also nursing moms to bring their babies with them to the Summer Games next month, according to a spokesperson for the IOC. This stance is a reverse on an earlier decision that prohibited family members of athletes from attending the games due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
"We are very pleased to hear that the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has found a special solution regarding the entry to Japan for mothers who are breastfeeding and their young children," the IOC spokesperson said.
When the family member restrictions were first announced, Aliphine Tuliamuk, who qualified for the Games last year and decided to have a baby once the Olympics were postponed, asked the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee if her 5-month-old daughter and fiancé can accompany her to Japan. Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher, who gave birth in March, and American soccer star Alex Morgan, who has a one-year-old daughter, have both said they'd hoped to bring their babies along to the Games this year.
"It's important to allow mothers the option to have their kids with them when they compete," Morgan said in April. "If a child is under 1 or 2, they might still be breastfeeding, so that's a huge piece of it."
Track and field star Allyson Felix told reporters that she didn't know whether she'd be able to bring her 2-year-old daughter, Camryn, to Tokyo after the restrictions were initially put in place, but she also said that the priority for kids attending should be infants.
"I would be most sensitive to moms who are breastfeeding," she said. "I know for me, when I competed when [Camryn] was under a year old — you need to be near your child."
In an Instagram post shared on Sunday, before the easing of restrictions had been announced, Tuliamuk said she was agonizing over leaving her baby.
"I had been putting off thinking about Zoe not coming to Tokyo with me for a while now, but I had to start to, at team processing a week ago in Eugene, and I have cried a lot since," she said. "I know that I will be leaving her for only 10 days, and she will be just fine, and that so many other moms have done the same, but I can't even imagine being away from her for half a day."
How wonderful (and necessary) it is for breastfeeding athletes and new moms to not have to make the choice working parents have to make all too often: career or child.
We'll be able to watch all of these amazing, inspirational mothers compete in the Tokyo Olympics starting July 23!
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