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Athletes back IOC's decision to permit breastfeeding moms at Tokyo Games

American track star Nia Ali says she knows what it's like to balance being a breastfeeding mom and an elite athlete.

American track star Nia Ali says she knows what it's like to balance being a breastfeeding mom and an elite athlete. 

Ali, partner of Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, posted a photo of herself nursing her newborn child on Instagram Wednesday, the same day the International Olympic Committee announced that breastfeeding moms can bring their children to Tokyo.

Organizers had previously said athletes would not be allowed to bring their families due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

"Full transparency, I’ve pumped in between track and weights, I’ve pumped in random places due to engorgement from being away from my child. I am no stranger to pumping, storing and shipping milk and I can assure you it is not something you want to do on the biggest stage of your career," Ali, a mother of three, said in the post. 

"My heart is with you all and I pray all is resolved in a timely manner. As parents we know how to adjust to the unexpected, so I’m hopeful Olympic moms will prevail through these tough times," added Ali, who is not competing in Tokyo.

The IOC said in a statement Wednesday it is pleased a solution was found. 

"We very much welcome the fact that so many mothers are able to continue to compete at the highest level, including at the Olympic Games," the statement said.

The decision to allow breastfeeding moms to bring their children. came after Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher issued an emotional plea on Instagram. 

She said the IOC was forcing her to chose between skipping the Games or spending four weeks in Tokyo without her three-month-old daughter Sophie.

Gaucher, a 37-year-old from Mission, B.C., said Wednesday she is "really happy" that she can now attend the games with her baby. 

"To all of the working moms out there who’ve had to fight this fight before, I think it’s just a really good day for women in sport today," Gaucher said. 

Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic referred to Gaucher's struggles on Tuesday when he announced on social media that he won't compete in Tokyo. 

"I hope athletes like (Gaucher) don’t have to choose between being a mother and an athlete," he said in the post. "The Olympics are about equality, inclusion and competition."

U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan told reporters in April that it was important "to allow mothers the option to have their kids with them while they compete … if a child is under one or two, they might still be breastfeeding, so that's a huge piece of it."  

Morgan's daughter Charlie, born in May of 2020, has been able to accompany her on the road. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2021. 

The Canadian Press