The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are at the center of controversy for a series of decisions by the organizers. After the Olympic Committee received a lot of criticism for including New Zealand transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard in the women’s Olympic weightlifting section, Tokyo and the organizing committee decided to put Kim Gaucher, a basketball player on the Canadian Olympic team who has a young daughter who is breastfeeding, between a rock and a hard place, which has led to allegations of sexism in the Olympics.
Gaucher gave birth to her daughter, Sophie, three months ago, and unfortunately for the player, no exceptions are being allowed from Tokyo for family or friends to be accepted into Olympic villages due to the pandemic.
“All I’ve ever wanted out of my basketball career has been to rep [represent] Canada at the Olympics. Last year, my teammates and I qualified for Tokyo, but right now I’m being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete,” Gaucher said in an Instagram video. “I can’t have them both. Tokyo has said ‘no friends, no family, no exceptions.”
Sexism in the Olympics? No exceptions, though the IOC will study cases
Speaking to CBS News, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it is highly unlikely that family exceptions will be accepted, even for babies like Sophie. However, individual cases are being reviewed.
“National Olympic Committees [NOCs] are responsible for the composition of their delegations at Games time, and the IOC is aware that a small number of them have been dealing with requests from athletes to bring their children on a case-by-case basis.”IOC to CBS
Likewise, in another statement, the organizing committee commented to the media outlet “that it was ‘basically decided’ that family and friends would be excluded from the Games.” Although, they explained, “there may be special circumstances, particularly with regard to young children, so we will continue to consult with the IOC and the [International Paralympic Committee] and seek input from other interested parties.”
According to CBS News, “the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canada Basketball said an appeal was made to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee to allow Gaucher’s daughter and husband, Ben Gaucher, into Japan.”
“In any other Games scenario, we would have long ago found a solution,” the COC statement to CBS said. “The Tokyo Olympic Games are understandably being conducted with an unprecedented focus on health and safety. This includes Japanese borders being closed to overseas visitors, family and friends.”
Kim Gaucher desperate for a solution
All the committees tell the basketball player that they understand her situation, but none find a solution, and there is only a month to go before the games in Tokyo.
“Everyone says they agree, but no one can do anything,” Kim Gaucher told CBS News.
There is another reality that denotes injustice for Kim Gaucher and her daughter. That is that a large number of foreign sports journalists and media will be traveling to Japan. This puts into conflict the assertion that Gaucher’s daughter and her husband are a health risk, even if the Olympic teams’ health bubbles are more restrictive.
In fact, Gaucher expressed frustration that there are exceptions for journalists and people in the stadiums, “Players and media are all flying in from around the world, 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?”
“The basketball team is going to be gone for 28 days,” Gaucher said. “People have told me to try to pump like mad. I don’t have enough milk in me to train as a high level athlete, get my butt back in shape, and feed her currently, all while stocking a 28 day supply. We’ve looked into shipping milk, we’ve run into complications, we’re still exploring that option. But it’s not going to be easy.”
The truth is, right now, Kim Gaucher is between the difficult situation of choosing between representing her country at the Olympics or breastfeeding her daughter.