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Nursing mothers will be allowed to bring their children to the Olympics

Mothers with young babies will no longer be forced to leave their children behind

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday morning that breastfeeding mothers will now be allowed to bring their babies to the Tokyo Olympics. This is a huge relief to several athletes who are mothers, who before this change would have been forced to choose between not competing, or leaving their infant children at home.

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Among these relieved athletes is Aliphine Tuliamukwinner of the U.S. Olympic marathon trials. In May, Tuliamuk petitioned the Olympic organizing committee to allow her to bring her four-month-old daughter Zoe to the Games, but had not received word on the decision. At the time, she had not given an ultimatum but was still unsure of what she would do. With the IOC’s announcement today, she no longer has to make the difficult choice.

“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,” the IOC said in a statement. “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.”

Previously, organizers had barred all international spectators, including athletes’ families, which included their children. Several athletes have spoken out about the issues facing mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding, including nine-time Olympic medallist, Allyson Felixwho recently qualified for her 5th Games. “I would be most sensitive to moms who are breastfeeding,” she said. “I know for me, when I competed when Cammy was under a year old — you need to be near your child.”

The organizers have now eased the restrictions, so women in this situation do not have to make such a difficult choice.

“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,” organizers 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.”

According to Reuters, these children will be staying in approved hotels outside of the Olympic Village because that area is under strict restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic. Only athletes and Olympic officials will be permitted to enter that residential area.

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