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Deaf-Blind Swimmer Withdraws From Paralympics After Being Denied Access To Personal Care Assistant

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Deaf-Blind Swimmer Withdraws From Paralympics After Being Denied Access To Personal Care Assistant

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.

Becca Meyers. Credit: PA
Becca Meyers. Credit: PA

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.

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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."

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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.

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"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.

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"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."

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.

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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.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@beccameyers20

Topics: swimming, Australia, Tokyo

Max Sherry
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