Canadian basketball player may be forced to choose between daughter, Olympics
FILE- In this July 29, 2016, file photo, Canada's Kim Gaucher watches during a break in the second half of a women's exhibition basketball game in Bridgeport, Conn. Gaucher say she is being “forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete.” COVID-19 rules prevent her from bringing her daughter, Sophie, who was born in March, to the Tokyo Olympics next month. She says Olympic organizers have said “no friends, no family, no exceptions.” The 37-year-old Gaucher is looking into options, such as shipping milk, but has run into complications. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, June 24, 2021 4:32PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 24, 2021 4:32PM EDT
VANCOUVER - Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher says she's being “forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete.”
The 37-year-old from Mission, B.C., isn't allowed to bring infant daughter Sophie, who was born in March, to the Tokyo Olympics opening July 23.
In an Instagram video, Gaucher said Olympic organizers have said “no friends, no family, no exceptions.”
She pointed out international media and sponsors can travel to Tokyo and a capped number of Japanese spectators will be allowed in venues.
“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?” Gaucher asked.
“We've tried appeals. Everyone says they're on board, but nobody can do anything. Let's see if we can make a difference. It's 2021. Let's make working moms normal.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee has appealed to Tokyo's organizing committee to allow Gaucher to have her daughter and husband with her in Japan while she competes in the third Olympic Games of her career.
“The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canada Basketball recognize how difficult this situation is and have been supporting Kim at her request,” the organizations said Thursday in a joint statement. “In any other Games scenario, we would have long ago found a solution.
“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.
“We are awaiting an official response while Kim continues to train and travel with Canada Basketball to prepare for the Games.”
The Canadian women's team, ranked fourth in the world, is currently based at the Toronto Raptors' temporary practice facility in Tampa, Fla.
Gaucher travelled there Thursday from Vancouver with her family. Canada opens against Serbia on July 26 in Tokyo.
The team will be outside of Canada for 28 days to prepare for and play in the Games, 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,” she stated.
“We've looked into shipping milk. We're run into some complications. We're still exploring that option, but it's not going to be easy.”
Gaucher isn't the only Canadian athlete battling for the accommodation of mothers in Tokyo.
Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold of Kitchener, Ont., is currently appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland for the chance to compete.
The two-time Pan American Games flyweight gold medallist had her May qualifying tournament in Argentina cancelled because of COVID-19 cases there.
With no other international qualifiers for boxers from the Americas, athletes were selected on a ranking system based on three events between 2018 and 2019.
Bujold, 33, didn't compete in them. The three events conflicted with her maternity leave after the birth of daughter Kate on Nov. 5, 2018.
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, tennis star and activist Billie Jean King and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault expressed support for Bujold in her bid to box in Tokyo.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2021.