A Spanish swimmer has condemned the Tokyo Olympics bosses after they claimed she was banned from taking her baby to Athletes’ Village.
Ona Carbonell, 31, captain of the Spanish synchronized swimming team, said she was forced to choose between her dream and her 11-month-old son Kai because of the draconian rules surrounding the Covid hit Games.
Carbonell, who has been an outspoken advocate of breastfeeding since giving birth last year, said she wanted to continue feeding Kai during the competition but was prevented from doing so.
Olympic chiefs reportedly told Carbonell that Kai would have to stay in a hotel with his father away from Athletes’ Village and visit them to perform feedings, breaking the Covid-protected bubble that kept her and her teammates safe .
The rules made it “incompatible to perform in the Olympics and be the best you can with your family,” she said in an angry Instagram post.
Ona Carbonell, 31 and captain of the Spanish synchronized swimming team, has criticized the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics for banning her from traveling to the Games with her son Kai.
Carbonell, who has advocated breastfeeding since giving birth last year, said strict Covid rules forced her to choose between her dream and doing ‘the best’ for her family
Japan has been forced to make drastic changes to the way the Tokyo Olympics are conducted as some 50,000 athletes, coaches, staff and media from around the world travel to attend the Games amid the pandemic.
Exceptions to Japan’s strict border lockdown — which virtually prohibits arrivals from abroad — have been made for athletes and their staff.
From Carbonell’s description, it appears that the heads of Tokyo were willing to make an extra exception for the arrival of Kai and partner Pablo, yet would have forced them to be quarantined at a hotel away from where the athletes are staying.
All competitors have been placed in a Covid-safe bubble, cutting them off from outside contact with frequent tests and temperature checks to ensure Covid cannot spread and deter people from competing.
Still, Carbonell felt the organizers hadn’t gone far enough to include new moms in their plans.
“When I gave birth to Kai and saw that I was getting fit and that I could make it to the Tokyo Games, the first thing I did was ask if I could take him because I was breastfeeding him, and they said no,” she said. a video on social media.
For weeks, some athletes posted on the networks this situation of having to choose between breastfeeding and family reconciliation and the Olympics.
“Because of these complaints from several athletes, I have spoken to the Spanish Olympic Committee…along with the Superior Sports Council, and we wrote a request to see if he could take me to Kai and they told me it was possible, but that the conditions were not set by them, but by the government of Japan.
“I ended up having to make a very difficult decision with my team…with my coach…and with my family because the conditions set by the government of Japan are incompatible with playing in an Olympics.”
In the end, she decided it would be best for Kai and Pablo to stay at home in Spain while she went to Japan to participate.
Carbonell has spoken out multiple times about the ‘importance’ of breastfeeding and wanted to continue feeding Kai this way at the Olympics, but said Covid rules made it impossible
The 31-year-old has competed in the last two Olympics, claiming silver in the women’s duet and bronze in the team, even in London 2012, and finishing fourth in the duet in Rio 2016
“I hope that all these athletes who are going through the same thing as me help to publicize this situation and normalize something that should be, but clearly isn’t,” she added.
Carbonell competed in the last two Olympic Games, won silver and bronze in London 2012, and finished fourth in the women’s duet in Rio 2016.
She also won dozens of medals at European and international level in several other competitions.
The Tokyo Olympics, estimated to have cost Japan at least £12 billion to host, will begin with the official opening ceremony on Friday and last until August 8.
The showpiece, designed to showcase the country’s recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011, has already been delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.
Organizers had been pushing for the pandemic to be under control, but instead, Covid cases in the country are on the rise amid the rapid spread of the Delta variant, while only 20 percent of the population is vaccinated.
Tokyo’s Olympic bosses have decided to go ahead despite the risk of infection, making the Games unpopular with Japanese – two-thirds of whom said they don’t expect to enjoy the event in a poll on Sunday.
A total of 79 Covid infections have now been identified among those linked to the Games, including athletes, coaches, volunteers and support staff.
That includes two athletes who have been forced to withdraw from competition for failing to complete their 10-day isolation in time to participate in their events.
Fernanda Aguirre, a Chilean taekwondo fighter, and Candy Jacobs, a Dutch skateboarder, announced their withdrawal on Wednesday.
Three other athletes – two South African football players and a Czech volleyball player – have also tested positive, but will technically be able to rejoin the competition after their isolation period ends.