With less than a month to go until the Olympics, Kim Gaucher may be forced to choose between her life’s work and her future.
Gaucher, 37, gave birth to her daughter Sophie on March 19 and is still breast-feeding. However, family members of athletes are barred from attending the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic.
Gaucher, a Team Canada basketball player from Surrey, B.C., expressed her frustration in an Instagram video post on Wednesday night.
“Right now I’m being forced to decide between being a breast-feeding mom or an Olympic athlete. I can’t have them both. Tokyo has said no friends, no family, no exceptions,” she said.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told CBC News on Thursday that “unaccredited people from overseas” would be highly unlikely to be allowed to attend.
“National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are responsible for the composition of their delegations at Games time and the IOC is aware that a small number of them have been dealing with requests from athletes to bring their children on a case-by-case basis.”
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CBC Sports has reached out to Gaucher, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canada Basketball for comment.
Gaucher said in her social media post that she’s tried all “the traditional routes” to be granted an exception to bring Sophie to Tokyo.
“We’ve tried appeals. Everyone says they’re on board but no one can do anything,” she said.
Erin Durant, a trial lawyer based in Ontario, said the next step for Gaucher – after dealing with the IOC and COC directly –would be to consider taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“If she says she’s exhausted her options, it seems like her public posting and going to the media is sort of her last-ditch effort to get people to change their minds here,” Durant said.
Tokyo Olympic organizers recently announced a 50 per cent capacity limit, meaning a maximum of 10,000 people, in each Olympic venue consisting of solely Japanese citizens. No family or friends are permitted to attend.
“As we know in other areas of society, sometimes uniform rules impact people much, much differently and can result in discrimination,” Durant said.
Gaucher previously competed for Canada at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She pondered retirement following Canada’s quarter-final exit at Rio, but ultimately decided in 2018 to return for one final Olympics.
More than most, the one-year delay of Tokyo 2020 affected Gaucher.
She says the basketball team will be out of the country for 28 days for the Olympics, and she already skipped the team’s recent FIBA AmeriCup tournament in Puerto Rico.
“I don’t have enough milk in me to train as a high-level athlete, get my butt back in shape, and feed her all while stocking 28-day supply,” Gaucher said.
‘Make working moms normal’
Gaucher also said she’s looked into shipping milk, a “complicated” option which she’s still exploring.
Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold was previously denied an Olympic spot as she was pregnant and post-partum during the qualifying period that was adjusted during the pandemic.
She’s now taking her case to arbitration, fighting back against the IOC. A decision on whether she’ll be allowed to compete in Tokyo is expected in the coming days.
“Always having multiple stories is helpful when you’re trying to convince someone to change their mind about a policy or when you’re advocating for a case,” Durant said.
Gaucher implored supporters to help in any way possible.
“It’s 2021. Let’s see if we can make working moms normal.”