July 22, 2021 – American Paralympian Becca Meyers, a triple gold medalist swimmer who is deaf and blind, announced this week that she is dropping out of the Tokyo Games.
Meyers said she made the decision because the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee rejected her request to bring her personal care assistant to Japan. A personal personal care assistant will be available to help, she added, but will be on call for the entire U.S. Paralympic swim team with 34 athletes, including nine other visually impaired athletes. Meyers is the only one who is so deaf.
“I am angry, I am disappointed, but most of all, I am sad that I do not represent my country,” she wrote on Instagram.
Meyers wrote that the committee has allowed her to bring a personal care assistant – his mother – to international meetings since 2017. With COVID-19 security measures and the limitations of non-essential personnel in Tokyo, however, an assistant from personal care is not allowed. She acknowledged the pandemic protocols but added that “a trusted PCA is essential for me to compete.”
“So, in 2021, why as a disabled person, am I still fighting for my rights? ” she wrote. “I speak for future generations of Paralympic athletes in the hope that they will never have to feel the pain I have experienced. Enough is enough.”
In a statement to The Washington Post, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it was working under “unprecedented restrictions on what is possible on the ground in Tokyo.” Most events take place without spectators, and there are major limitations for “foreign delegations”, including personal care assistants.
“This position has led some athletes to advise us that they will not accept a nomination to the United States team for the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the committee wrote.
“We are heartbroken for athletes who must make agonizing decisions about their participation if they cannot have their usual support resources at a major international competition,” the committee wrote. “But our top priority is ensuring the safety of our athletes, coaches, staff and the citizens of the host country.”
Meyers, 26, was born with Usher syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects both hearing and vision, according to CBS News. As a two-time Paralympian, she won three gold medals and several world championships. She was scheduled to compete in four events in Tokyo.
“The Paralympic Games are meant to be a paradise for athletes with disabilities,” Meyers wrote in a column for USA Today after its announcement.
“How could I step foot in a foreign city, with so many restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put in place, and expect to feel safe for two weeks? ” she wrote. “How can one of us? “