Sports

Deaf, blind Paralympian quits Team USA after being denied care assistant

Becca Meyers, a six-time Paralympic medalist, will miss the Tokyo Paralympics after being told she could not bring her Personal Care Assistant — her mother, Maria Meyers — to the Summer Games.

The deaf-blind swimmer confirmed the news in a note posted to social media Tuesday, calling her decision to quit Team USA “gut-wrenching.”

Meyers said she was repeatedly denied her PCA, “a reasonable & essential accommodation for me,” by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

She added that the USOPC denied her request on the basis of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Japanese government. 

Meyers’ father believes the decision falls on 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 organizing committee. It’s the USOPC that’s blocking this,” he said.

Meyers told Washington Post her decision to miss the Tokyo Paralympics will likely mean her Paralympic career is over.

Becca Meyers of the United States competes in the Women's 100m Butterfly during day 3 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on June 19, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Becca Meyers competes in the Women’s 100m Butterfly during day 3 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials
Getty Images

In her social media statement, the 26-year-old said 33 swimmers on the US Paralympic teams — “nine of whom are also visually impaired” — were denied their own PCA “because there will be a single PCA on staff that is available.”

Meyers, who took home three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was born with Usher syndrome, a condition affecting both hearing and vision.

“Athletes with disabilities are able to compete in a setting like the Paralympics because of PCAs,” Meyers told USA Today, explaining that “trusted” PCAs “help us navigate these foreign venues, from the pool deck, athlete check-in to finding where we can eat.

“But the biggest support they provide athletes like myself is giving us the ability to trust our surroundings – to feel at home for the short time we’re in this new, unfamiliar environment,” she explained.

Although she is feeling “angry” and “disappointed” over not being able to represent her country, Meyers said in her statement that she is “speaking up for future generations of Paralympic athletes in hope that they never have to experience the pain I’ve been through.

“Enough is enough,” she wrote.

“We should be celebrating everyone’s disabilities. We’ve broken barriers in society, defying all odds,” she told The Washington Post.

“And yet this is how we’re treated? Like a burden on the team?”


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