The Olympic Village Will Have a Nursery for the First Time Ever This Year

When the 2016 Olympic Games were approaching, track star Alysia Montaño wasn’t thinking only about what she had to do to make Team USA—she also had to consider the daunting logistics of having her family in Rio.

Then a new mom to one-year-old daughter Linnea, the six-time national champion imagined the difficulties of staying in the Olympic Village away from her baby and the challenge of finding safe spaces to meet. On top of the pressures that came with competing on the sport’s biggest stage, there was also the added stress as a mother navigating each scenario off the track, as Montaño tells SELF.

Now, athletes heading to Paris will be able to scratch one concern off the list: For the first time ever at the Games, a nursery space will be offered for athletes and their families at the Olympic Village.

In May, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and worldwide Olympic partner P&G announced its brand, Pampers, would support the new nursery venture. Inside, athletes and their children will find supplies like diapers and wipes, spaces to play together, and a private area for breastfeeding mothers.

At the Games, only athletes and select delegation members have overnight access to the residential areas of the Olympic Village, though friends and family can visit during the day with a guest pass. The new nursery follows in line with those rules—it’ll be located in a non-residential area of the Olympic Village Plaza and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The nursery won’t provide childcare, as it’s “intended to be a location to reunite competing moms and dads with their young children,” a representative of the IOC press office tells SELF. Ultimately, the idea is to create a more comfortable experience, especially for parents and their babies navigating the Village.

“The IOC and IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) want to ensure that pregnancy and motherhood do not mean a career end in particular for female athletes,” the IOC rep says. “The nursery forms part of an ongoing commitment from the IOC and IOC AC to ensure parent athletes are cared for and supported at the Games.” While the organization can’t give numbers yet on how many athletes will use the nursery, the rep did say they’ve been seeing “good interest” in it leading up to the Games.

When Montaño heard about the nursery, she was thrilled about the progress it represented for female athletes. “There were so many hoops to think through,” Montaño says. “[The nursery] takes some of the thinking out of it. Like, here’s where we will meet. It’s going to be safe, it’s going to be relaxing. I can walk from my room to a place where we can be together.”

Now a mother of three and soon-to-be upgraded Olympic bronze medalist, Montaño has dedicated the next chapter of her career to breaking barriers for mothers in sports and beyond. In 2020, she founded &Mother, a nonprofit that provides lactation spaces, free childcare, and maternal health care grants, among other forms of support aimed to help mothers thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Montaño said she’s glad brands like P&G are taking the initiative to fill in the gaps for moms in sport, and she’d also like to see it as a kickoff point in creating more equitable opportunities for parents to participate. Having ongoing discussions with athletes to learn what more is needed would be a good start.

“It’s one more step in the right direction,” Montaño said. “Let’s keep going.”

SELF is your one-click source for all things Summer Olympics. Read our latest coverage of the Paris Games here.


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