Olympics: Canada's Kim Gaucher asks for help acquiring exemption for breastfeeding children

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Kim Gaucher has to decide between playing in her third Olympics for the Canadian women's national team or being a breastfeeding mother caring for her child. 

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic and Tokyo Olympic rules, those are currently the only two choices. So Gaucher is turning to the internet to help change travel protocols. 

Athletes to decide between children, games

Gaucher called it time for "a hail mary" in a series of Instagram videos explaining the situation. 

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“All I’ve ever wanted out of my basketball career has been to rep Canada at the Olympics,” Gaucher said. “Last year, my teammates and I qualified for Tokyo, but right now, I am being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete. I can’t have them both.”

Tokyo organizers have said there will be no foreign fans allowed at the Games, so no family in attendance for athletes coming from overseas. Japan also currently bars entry for people from 159 countries, including the U.S., in order to keep the Games from becoming a super-spreader event. 

There are athletes and media flying in from all over the world who have to strictly abide by the so-called Playbooks, or rulebooks governing behavior in a COVID-19 world. 

"But I will not have access to my daughter?" Gaucher said. 

Athletes with breastfeeding babies face hurdle 

Kim Goucher. (Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Kim Goucher will have to choose between participating in the Olympics and breastfeeding her child. (Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Gaucher, 37, gave birth to her daughter, Sophia, on March 19 and is still breastfeeding. She said some people have suggested she "pump like crazy" to stock enough milk for the 28 days that she's gone. 

But training at an elite level and getting back into shape for international play makes that difficult, Gaucher said. She said they've looked into shipping milk, but there are complications they're still exploring. 

"I need the help of the internet," she said. "If anybody knows anybody, anything, let's see if we can make a difference. And it's 2021, let's make working moms normal."

Working moms at Tokyo Olympics 

Gaucher is not the only athlete with this dilemma. 

Aliphine Tuliamuk, a marathon runner for the U.S., had her daughter, Zoe, in January and is still breastfeeding. As with Gaucher, she told the Washington Post she has also petitioned to have her partner and baby come along.  

USWNT star Alex Morgan has daughter Charlie, who turned 1 last month. Morgan intended to return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on time last year. 

Track and field athletes Allyson Felix and Quanera Hayes have young children and shared a special "supermommies" moment after the two qualified for the Olympics over the weekend. 

Tennis GOAT Serena Williams said last month that if her 3-year-old daughter can't join her in Tokyo, she might not choose to play. 

It's not an exhaustive list. More women are choosing to have children while they play and return to their sport, often at the same or higher levels. Many sports leagues have started changing their maternity leave policies and help support their athletes who have children, even in the simplest ways of being OK with kids at practices. 

Even in a time of COVID-19 concern and protocols, mothers of young children shouldn't have to choose between those children and their careers. 

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