Tokyo 2020 organizers announced that nursing mothers may bring their young children to the Olympics when necessary on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“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,” they wrote in an email, revising their previous rule which stated no family members will be allowed to attend the Games.
The children will stay in approved hotels and will not be allowed into the quarantined “bubble” that is the Olympic and Paralympic Village which will be off-limits for everyone besides athletes and team officials.
Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher and American long-distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk are two athletes who have been vocal about the previous decision to not allow any family members to attend the Olympic Games.
Gaucher gave birth to her daughter in March. “All I’ve ever wanted out of my basketball career is to rep Canada at the Olympics,” she said in a video on Twitter last Thursday.
“Right now I’m being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete…”
The basketball team will be gone for 28 days, she explained.
Three days ago, Tuliamuk created a thread on Twitter of her thoughts on leaving her 5-month-old breastfeeding daughter behind to compete in the marathon in Tokyo.
Now that we are into the final 6wks before my marathon at the #2020tokyoolympics I feel excited, but also torn. I have been working my butt off since having my daughter, I want to produce the best result possible, my long runs & workouts are coming together nicely pic.twitter.com/ulnFSRPgYW
— Aliphine Tuliamuk (@mamaZoeCherotch) June 28, 2021
U.S. soccer player Alex Morgan, whose son was born in May 2020, also defended nursing mothers’ ability to breastfeed their children at the Olympics on social media.
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
Her teammate Morgan Rapinoe reinforced Morgan’s thoughts on the organizers’ use of the words “when necessary.”
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) July 1, 2021
While there are no new parents on the 2021 U.S. Olympic swim team, there are at least two women who stand out in recent years who competed in the Olympics as new parents.
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer competed on the 206 Rio Olympic team 17 months after giving birth to her son.
12-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres qualified for her 5th Olympic Games in 2008, less than two years after giving birth to her first child.
Tokyo organizers still say they will allow 50 percent capacity in the Olympic venues, up to a maximum of 10,000 people. This is subject to change, though, as the Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto said the decision may be revisited.
Foreign spectators are still banned from attending, now with the exception of the breastfeeding children of nursing athletes.