“I will run for you, my daughter Camryn!” World’s top sprinter Allyson Felix mentioned her two-year-old daughter right before U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials for the Tokyo Olympics held on June 21 in Eugene, Oregon, the United States. As the only female Track and Field athlete with six gold medals in the Olympic Games, Felix gained her 5th chance to the Olympics by ranking 2nd in the women's 400-meter final (50:02). It was the power of a mother that gave her the ticket to the Olympics.
Being a mother directs public attention to women athletes in the Olympics. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic puts it into a new perspective as athletes as a mother have found it harder to juggle their professional responsibilities with the demands of a caretaker of children. With tight quarantine measures and an entry ban on foreign tourists, they may have no option but to leave for Tokyo without their children.
Quanera Hayes, the mother of a two-year-old boy named Demetrius, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics (49:78) by outpacing Felix to win the women’s 400-meter final. The USA Track & Field congratulated the two mothers on their joining of the U.S. national team. Giving birth to a boy in 2017, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce proclaims herself “mommy rocket.” She is ready to run for the title of the first woman who wins the 100-meter final in the Olympics three times running.
Reaching a crossroads in a professional athlete career, some choose to be a mother over an athlete. Tennis player Serena Williams, the mother of a three-year-old girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., announced on Monday that she will give up on the Olympics. She did not clarify the reasons. However, she said in May that she will not go to Tokyo if she has to stay away from her daughter.
A growing number of requests have been made to allow athletes to go to Tokyo with their children. U.S. professional soccer player Alex Morgan maintained that it is important for women athletes as mother to be given a chance to stay with their children.
Breastfeeding mothers express great concerns. U.S. long distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk asked the International Olympics Committee and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to allow her to take her five-month-old daughter to Tokyo. However, her request was rejected due to COVID-19 quarantine guidelines.
Giving birth in March, Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher said that her end goal of life was to join the Olympics. However, she is now in a dilemma between being a breastfeeding mother and being an athlete for the Olympics, adding that she can’t take it both.
The Tokyo organizing committee on Thursday announced that women athletes with infant babies are permitted to take them to Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As per quarantine guidelines, foreign athletes are not allowed to be accompanied by their family and friends. However, the organizing committee considered an exceptional situation that breastfeeding mother athletes are faced with, thus allowing them to take their babies and babysitters to Tokyo.