Deaf-Blind Swimmer Withdraws From Paralympics After Being Denied Access To Personal Care Assistant
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The Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be without one of its most decorated stars.
Becca Meyers, a six-time medallist, has been forced to withdraw from the competition after officials denied her access to have her Personal Care Assistant with her in Japan.
Meyers is a deaf-blind swimmer who insists her Personal Care Assistant, who happens to be her own mother, is "reasonable and essential accommodation" for her in order to compete.
But according to the 26-year-old, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) have now repeatedly denied her access to that important service.
As a result, Meyers has now backed out of the Tokyo Games, penning an emotional statement on social media to break the devastating news - a decision she calls "gut-wrenching".
"Heartbroken to share that I'm withdrawing from the Tokyo Paralympic Games," she said via Twitter.
"The USOPC has repeatedly denied my reasonable and essential accommodation because of my disability, leaving me no choice."
Heartbroken to share that I'm withdrawing from the Tokyo Paralympic Games. The USOPC has repeatedly denied my reasonable and essential accommodation because of my disability, leaving me no choice. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/p9tKsbPip2
- Becca Meyers (@becca_meyers) July 20, 2021
It's understood Meyers, who was born with Usher syndrome, not only needs her Personal Care Assistant in order to compete but also to perform day-to-day tasks.
"Team USA and USOPC know that I am deaf and blind," Meyers told ESPN.
"I need a personal care assistant who I can trust. They are claiming that because of COVID restrictions, I can't get approved for a PCA. But I really don't believe that it's just because of COVID. They chose to ignore my needs. They chose to ignore my request for my team.
"It makes me really upset. I am a person with disabilities. And I don't feel safe going to Tokyo without my PCA. I shouldn't have to fear my safety in Tokyo because I have been denied my PCA. How can an organisation that prides itself on celebrating athletes with disabilities do this to an athlete with disabilities?"
While you'd assume that strict COVID-19 protocols imposed by the Japanese government had something to do with the ruthless decision, it seems not everyone is convinced with that method of thinking.
Meyers' own father, who is equally as distraught as his daughter, reckons the blame falls solely on the laps of the USOPC.
"We contacted the Maryland secretary of state," Mark Meyers told The Washington Post.
"We had somebody contact the Japanese government, the ambassador - they all say it's not the government [and] it's not the organising committee. It's the USOPC that's blocking this."
Becca Meyers is a six-time Paralympic medalist - but she's facing dangerous inequities that are forcing her out of this year's games.
I'm calling on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to ensure that ALL athletes receive the accommodation and support they need to compete. pic.twitter.com/vrsrRPConK
- Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) July 20, 2021
News of Meyers' forced withdrawal from the Games, which she thinks could spell the end of her Paralympic career altogether, sparked outrage among fans on social media who immediately called for action to be taken against the authorities behind the decision.
Interestingly, Meyers' story also captured the attention of a lot of politicians who wasted no time in throwing their support behind her too.
Maggie Hassan went above and beyond and voiced her concerns on the matter in the senate, calling on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to ensure that every athlete receives the accommodation and support they need to in order to compete.
Deafblind Paralympian, 3x gold medalist, @Becca_Meyers can't compete in Tokyo because of this ableist decision by the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee. This hurts future #Deafblind athletes & other Paralympians. @TeamUSA, please change this decision! #TokyoParalympics #TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/ebeb57CWRe
- Haben Girma:woman: (@HabenGirma) July 20, 2021
The disabled community deserves the respect, accommodation, and modifications they need to succeed in life.
This situation is shameful and easily fixable.
Do the right thing, USOPC. Becca Meyers deserves better. #DisabilityPrideMonth #TeamUSA https://t.co/lSUnpn5kaY
- Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 21, 2021
When I tell you, the RAGE I felt reading this... ' Swimmer Becca Meyers is skipping Tokyo Paralympics because of covid rules - The Washington Post https://t.co/c06voWjWfA
- Amanda Leduc :wheelchair: (@AmandaLeduc) July 19, 2021
Maryland native Becca Meyers is a two-time Paralympian and six-time medalist with three gold medals. It is disgraceful that she was denied essential and reasonable accommodations, which led to her withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics. Our Paralympic athletes deserve better. https://t.co/zrylepqjNV
- Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) July 20, 2021
Becca Meyers is a deaf-blind swimmer, with three golds from the 2016 Rio Games, who was forced to quit Team USA because she was told she couldn't bring her personal care assistant to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This is discrimination against people with disabilities. pic.twitter.com/KYs4grpwuG
- Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) July 20, 2021
"Added Becca Meyers: "No one has ever asked me what I need. No one has ever asked me that question. When we had a meeting in May to discuss this, I presented my case and I said, 'Okay, how do we make this work?' They talked right over me. They dismissed me." https://t.co/fY5ubLd2C0
- stacy-marie ishmael (@s_m_i) July 19, 2021
This is grotesque: 2021 Olympics #COVID19 regulations have made the #Paralympics inaccessible for #disabled athletes, like gold medalist Becca Meyers, who has quit Team USA. https://t.co/Bf1I6P98ez
- Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) July 20, 2021
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@beccameyers20
Topics: swimming, Paralympics, Australia, Tokyo