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TOKYO – Spanish synchronized swimmer Ona Carbonell has said she is disappointed and disillusioned that she will not be able to take her breastfeeding son to the Olympics because her family in Japan would be subject to such drastic restrictions.
Her husband and son Kai, who is nearly one, would be quarantined at a separate hotel and unable to leave their room for the 20 or so days she would be in Japan, she said on her Instagram page.
“If I were going to breastfeed Kai during the day when he needs it, I would have to leave the Olympic villa, the bubble of the team, and go to the hotel, risking the health of my team.”
“I had to make a very difficult decision … because the measures imposed by the Japanese government are not compatible with my athletic performance and at the same time with my family,” Carbonell said.
“I hope other athletes can get along with these conditions and still take their kids with them. Personally, I can’t accept these conditions. I’m not going to be fine, I would have to use the breast pump for 20 days in hopes that Kai still wants to breastfeed , something that is very important to me.”
Carbonell was initially told she couldn’t take Kai with them because athletes’ families couldn’t travel with them, but after seeing other athletes describe how sad they were at having to choose between the event and their babies, she and her coach filed a petition with the International Olympic Committee.
Two weeks ago they told her that she could take Kai with her, but only under the rules of the Japanese government.
“After receiving countless messages of support and encouragement to take Kai to Tokyo, I wanted to express my disappointment and disappointment that I will finally have to travel without him.”
Tokyo 2020 organizers said in a statement that they would not comment on individual cases, but were determined to do everything possible to keep athletes with nursing children competing.
“When necessary, breastfeeding children and their caregivers can accompany athletes to Japan … appropriate measures regarding testing and quarantine will determine their entry into the country.”
An area in the Olympic Village was available for athletes to safely spend time with and breastfeed their children, but they must remain in private accommodations, she added.
Carbonell said the end of the pandemic alone would make reconciling motherhood and top sport no longer something “practically impossible”.
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