US track star Allyson Felix establishes first-ever nursery for Olympic parents

Two photos. On the left, Allyson Felix runs on a track, wearing a blue top and running bib. On the right, a rendering of a nursery provided by Pampers in the Olympic Village

Before they have even begun, the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris have already made history. After announcing that Paris 2024 will be the first-ever Games to achieve gender parity, the International Olympic Committee has also announced an expansion of services for athletes that could change the game.

This year, in a partnership with longtime sponsor P&G, the Olympic Village will be home to its first-ever nursery. 

According to a press release from the IOC, the nursery will “provide a comfortable and convenient environment for athlete parents to spend time with their babies and young children during the Games.”

A rendering of a nursery sponsored by Pampers.
Photo courtesy of P&G

The nursery includes a designated space for childcare, as well as access to diapers, wipes, and other essentials. 

The advocacy of Allyson Felix — the most decorated track and field athlete in history — was instrumental in bringing this accommodation to life.

“I just knew how difficult it was to compete at the top level after I had my daughter,” Felix told CBS News.

Allyson Felix competes at the 2020 Olympic Games
Allyson Felix at the 2020 Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of IOC

She added that when she joined the Athlete’s Commission at the IOC, she “really wanted to be that voice for athlete moms and just take away one less thing for them to worry about in the pressure of competition.”

Felix’s colleagues at the IOC share her sentiments.

“Many athletes are balancing their sporting careers and family. I know how this feels as I competed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games as a mother with a young child,” said IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Emma Terho. “Pregnancy and motherhood don’t have to mean a career end for female athletes.”

Felix also added that she sees the nursery as “a shift in the culture” for women athletes.

“I think it really tells women that you can choose motherhood and also be at the top of your game,” she told CBS News. 

A rendering of a nursery sponsored by Pampers at the 2024 Paris Olympics
Photo courtesy of P&G

The nursery will be located inside the Athlete Village Plaza, where all of the athletes live during the Games. Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, athletes and caregivers can enter the nursery using a requested pass from their representative National Olympic Committee. 

These rules will allow there to be enough space for infants and toddlers throughout the day.

Additionally, the IOC shared that P&G will also support other services in the Olympic Village, including a salon, laundry rooms, and a dental clinic. Complimentary menstrual products will also be available in restrooms throughout the Village.

The Olympic Village in Paris, France
Photo courtesy of IOC

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Felix told CBS, of inclusivity for women in athletics. “We’ve really pushed to be in a better place. We’re seeing so many athlete mom role models for the younger ones to look to, and I hope we continue to find ways to better support these women.”

Outside of sports, the retired U.S. sprinter has long been an advocate for parents — especially moms. Most recently, she received a $20 million grant from the Melinda French Gates Foundation to put toward Black maternal health.

“I’m looking forward to deploying this money to organizations that are doing urgent work in this space and will really get it to members of the community that are most at risk of complications, and even death, during pregnancy,” Felix told CBS News. “I’m so humbled to receive it and I’m excited to put the money to good work.”

Allyson Felix walks with her toddler daughter on a red track
Felix and her first-born daughter. Photo courtesy of Allyson Felix/Instagram

Felix is also well known for her contract disputes with Nike, which according to a 2019 New York Times op-ed from the athlete, offered her a 70% pay cut and refused protections during Felix’s pregnancy. 

“If I can't secure maternity protections, who can?” Felix wrote. “What I’m not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity.”

Felix’s advocacy prompted Nike to announce a new maternity policy for its sponsored athletes, guaranteeing compensation for the 18 months surrounding childbirth

Now retired and eager to support the next generation of parent athletes, Felix will be at the 2024 Games in a whole new capacity.

“This is the first time in two decades I won’t be competing, so there’s a bit of loss and grief, but also some excitement for this new chapter,” she told CBS News. “I’ll be bringing my whole family to take in the Games.”

Header images courtesy of Mohan (CC BY 2.0) and P&G

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