With less than a month to go before the Olympics, Kim Gaucher could be forced to choose between her life’s work and her future.
Gaucher, a Team Canada basketball player from Mission, BC, gave birth to daughter Sophie on March 19 and is still breastfeeding. However, family members of athletes are not allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic.
The new mom and athlete expressed her frustration in a video post to Instagram on Wednesday night.
“Right now I have to choose between being a breastfeeding mother or an Olympian. I can’t have them both, ”said the 37-year-old. “Tokyo said no friends, no family, no exceptions. “
An unlikely exception, according to the IOC
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told CBC News on Thursday that it would be highly unlikely that “unaccredited people from abroad” would be allowed to attend.
“The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are responsible for the composition of their delegations at the time of the Games and the IOC is aware that a small number of them have dealt with requests from athletes to bring their children on a case-by-case basis. “
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In a statement to CBC, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canada Basketball said an appeal has been made to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee to allow Gaucher’s daughter and husband Ben Gaucher to enter. in Japan.
“The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canada Basketball recognize how difficult this situation is and have supported Kim at her request. In any other Games scenario, we would have long ago found a solution.
“The Tokyo Olympics are naturally held with an unprecedented emphasis on health and safety, this includes closing the Japanese borders to visitors, family and friends from overseas. “
Gaucher told CBC News she was initially led to believe she would be allowed to bring her daughter and husband to the team’s pre-Olympic host city, Kariya City, Japan. But that quickly changed.
“Once I heard that there would be no fans, I was like ‘OK, no fans,’” said Gaucher. But she assumed they would make an exception for a nursing mother. And if there were no exceptions, “I thought it would be easier to bring home milk and things like that.” “
In her social media post, Gaucher said she tried all “traditional routes” to get an exception to bring Sophie to Tokyo. She said in interviews with CBC News that the COC was sympathetic to her situation but couldn’t make an exception.
“Everyone says they’re on board but there’s nothing nobody can do,” she said.
Cour d’Abritration des Sports a possible next step
Erin Durant, an Ontario-based trial lawyer who is not involved in Gaucher’s case, said the next step the player can take – after dealing directly with the IOC and COC – would be to consider to bring his case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“If she says she’s exhausted all of her options, it looks like her public posting and media stint is sort of her last push to get people to change their minds here,” Durant said.
The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics recently announced a 50% capacity limit, which means that a maximum of 10,000 people will be allowed at each Olympic venue and will be made up entirely of Japanese citizens. No family or friends are allowed to attend.
“As we know in other areas of society, uniform rules sometimes have a very, very different impact on people and can lead to discrimination,” Durant said.
Meanwhile, international media and sponsors will descend to Japan.
“I started to get a little frustrated, because in my head I didn’t know the difference between my daughter and I being able to breastfeed different from a godfather, different from the media,” Gaucher said.
She previously represented Canada at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and considered retiring after the Canadian team exited the quarterfinals in Rio, but ultimately decided in 2018 to return for an Olympic final.
She says the basketball team will be out of the country for 28 days for the Olympics, and she has already skipped the team’s recent FIBA AmeriCup tournament in Puerto Rico.
“I don’t have enough milk in me to train as a top athlete, get my butt back in shape and nourish it while also storing a 28-day supply,” Gaucher said.
“Make working mothers normal”
Gaucher also said she looked into shipping milk, a “complicated” option she is still exploring.
Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold had previously been denied an Olympic spot because she was pregnant and postpartum during the qualifying period that was adjusted during the pandemic.
She is now taking her case to arbitration, fighting against the IOC. A decision on his authorization to compete in Tokyo is expected in the coming days.
Gaucher also said he heard from female basketball players for the United States team trying to bring young children to Tokyo to no avail.
“Always having multiple stories is helpful when trying to convince someone to change their mind about a policy or when making a case,” Durant said.
Gaucher implored supporters to help in any way they could.
“We are in 2021. Let’s see if we can make working mothers normal. “