Spanish swimmer says she’s ‘disillusioned’ at having to leave her breastfeeding son home because of Olympic rules

Ona Carbonell on her way to Tokyo 2020
Ona Carbonell on her way to Tokyo 2020 Europa Press Entertainment / Getty Images
  • Ona Carbonell made the decision to leave her breastfeeding son behind as she heads to Tokyo 2020.
  • She will pump while she’s away from him and hopes that he will take to breastfeeding once reunited.
  • Carbonell is not the only athlete facing this decision.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ona Carbonell, a member of the Spanish artistic swimming Olympic team, said she had to leave her breastfeeding son at home because of strict restrictions imposed by Japan due to COVID-19.

Carbonell told Reuters that she’s “disappointed and disillusioned” by having had to make the choice.

“For me to go and breastfeed Kai whenever he needs it during the day I would have to leave the Olympic villa, the team’s bubble, and go to the hotel, risking my team’s health. I had to make a really tough decision … because the Japanese government’s impositions are not compatible with my athletic performance and being with my family at the same time,” Carbonell told Reuters.

The swimmer was initially told that she couldn’t bring her son at all to the games. She and her coach petitioned the International Olympic Committee to allow her to do so.

Two weeks ago, they allowed her son to travel with her, but only under rules set by the Japanese government. The government is making all athletes’ families stay in a hotel outside the Olympic villa, and are not allowed to leave their rooms while in Tokyo.

Carbonell also said having to leave the villa multiple times a day to feed her son would not only disrupt her training, but also her teammates. Additionally, she would be leaving their bubble, putting everyone at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Carbonell is not the only athlete having to choose between attending the games and continuing to breastfeed her child. In June, Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher shared similar sentiments on an Instagram video.

“I’m being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete,” Gaucher said in a video.

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