Olympics-Tokyo organisers to allow nursing mothers to bring children to Games

Olympic Rings for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

By Manasi Pathak

(Reuters) - Nursing mothers will be allowed to bring their children to the Tokyo Olympics when necessary, 2020 organisers told Reuters on Wednesday.

Organisers have barred family members of athletes from attending the Games due to COVID-19 safety protocols, while foreign spectators are also excluded and domestic crowds will be capped.

Some athletes have complained that they were being forced to choose between the Games and their young children but organisers told Reuters in an email that the restriction has been eased.

"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," organisers said.

"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 news comes after Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher said she was being forced to decide between "being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete" because she cannot bring her three-month-old daughter to Tokyo.

American long-distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk also complained about the issue, saying she "cannot imagine" going to the Games without her breastfeeding daughter.

U.S. soccer player Alex Morgan said it is important "to allow mothers the option to have their kids with them when they compete".

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.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will begin on July 23.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)