The IOC has now confirmed that mothers who are breastfeeding their children can bring their child with them to the Tokyo Olympics.
Debate began when Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher said that due to Covid restrictions she would either have to spend 28 days away from her daughter or be forced to miss the Olympics. Gaucher said “Japanese fans are going to be in attendance, the arenas are going to be half-full, but I will not have access to my daughter? We’ve tried appeals. Everyone says they’re on board, but nobody can do anything. Let’s see if we can make a difference. It’s 2021. Let’s make working moms normal.”
But the IOC has said “We very much welcome the fact that so many mothers are able to continue to compete at the highest level, including at the Olympic Games. We are very pleased to hear that the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has found a special solution regarding the entry to Japan for mothers who are breastfeeding and their young children.”
“After careful consideration of the unique situation facing athletes with infants, we are pleased to confirm that, when necessary, young children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan,” the Tokyo Organising Committee said in a statement.
The clarification was welcomed by some athletes as a relief, but US football star Alex Morgan slammed organisers for keeping her in the dark about the criteria.
Morgan in a tweet said: "Still not sure what 'when necessary' even means. Is that determined by the mother or the IOC (International Olympic Committee)?"
"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."
U.S. marathoner Aliphine Tuliamuk had also complained about the issue, saying she "cannot imagine" going to the Games without her breastfeeding daughter.
Tokyo organizers did not immediately respond to questions about how many athletes would be impacted by the decision and whether caregivers would be allowed to accompany the young children.
Organisers said that nursing children must stay in approved hotels because the residential zone of the Olympic Village is restricted for everyone other than athletes and team officials.