VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A professional basketball player from B.C. is pushing for changes to COVID-19 rules that prevent her and other parents from bringing breastfeeding children with them to the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
Kim Gaucher, who was born in Surrey and now lives in Mission, should be in the final stretch of preparations for the Summer Games, but instead, she’s appealing to the internet for help.
“All I’ve ever wanted out of my basketball career has been to rep Canada at the Olympics,” she said while breastfeeding her daughter in one of a series of videos posted to Instagram.
“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,” added Gaucher, who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games.
She gave birth to her daughter, Sophie, earlier this year. And even though she’s still breastfeeding, her infant can’t join her at the Olympics because of measures outlined by organizers that prevent attendance by family and friends due to the pandemic.
“Tokyo has said no friends, no family, no exceptions,” she said.
Organizers and the International Olympic Committee have set a limit of 50 per cent capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for all Olympic venues, and said that those who do attend will be under strict rules. The decision to allow fans was made despite recommendations from Japan’s top medical adviser that the safest way to go about this would be to hold the Games without in-person spectators.
In addition to pointing out that local fans will be in attendance, Gaucher says members of the media are also flying in from around the world.
“The arenas are going to be packed full but I will not have access to my daughter,” she said in one of the videos, her baby on her lap.
“We’ve tried all the traditional routes, we’ve tried appeals. Everyone says they’re on board but nobody can do anything.”
Gaucher says she’s tried to explore her options but so far hasn’t been able to come up with a viable solution.
“The basketball team’s going to be gone for 28 days. 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 28-days supply,” she explained, adding she and her family have even looked into the possibility of shipping milk, but have already run into complications.
“We’re still exploring that option but it’s not going to be easy,” Gaucher added.
The 37-year-old is pleading with the public to help her bring change.
“I need the help of the internet. If anybody knows anybody, anything, let’s see if we can make a difference. It’s 2021, let’s make working moms normal.”
The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23. The Games, which were supposed to take place last year, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Japan is seeing fewer new cases than it did just a month ago, concerns continue to be voiced about the Olympics being held before the health crisis is over.
Japan also has a very low vaccination rate, especially when compared to its allies and other rich countries.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government has approved a travel exemption for this country’s Olympic hopefuls. This exemption will allow athletes to train in “bubbles” in Canada without having to undergo a two-week quarantine after arriving here. Athletes and staff will still be required to check into a government-approved hotel while they await a negative COVID-19 test before they are allowed to join one of the four quarantine bubbles in Victoria, Toronto, Montreal, or Calgary.
-With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press