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21st Jul 2021

Paralympian withdraws from Tokyo after being denied a care assistant

Kieran Galpin

Becca Meyers

Paralympian denied personal care assistant

Becca Meyers, a deaf and blind paralympic swimmer, has withdrawn from Tokyo 2020 after officials refused her request to bring along her mother as her care assistant. Officials stated she had to use the same care assistant as thirty-three other Olympians during her time in Japan.

Twenty-six-year-old Meyers has previously won six Olympic medals, with three of those being gold at Rio 2016. She has Usher Syndrome and is deaf and partially blind. Her mother is usually her care assistant and travels with Meyers to sporting events, but due to reduced numbers and the looming threat of Covid, Meyers was told this would not be possible.

Team USA says it is only allowing ‘operational essential staff with roles related to the overall execution of the games’, but Meyers says her mother should be considered essential.

“I’ve had to make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. I’m angry, I’m disappointed, and most of all I am sad to not be representing my country,” says Meyers.

“The USOPC has denied reasonable and essential accommodation for me, as a deaf-blind athlete, to compete in Tokyo, telling me I do not need a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) “who I trust” because there will be a single PCA on staff that is available to assist me and 33 other paralympic swimmers, 9 of whom are visually impaired.

“The USOPC has approved me having a trusted PCA (My Mom) at all sporting events since 2017, but this time it’s different. With COVID, there are new safety measures and limits on non-essential staff in place, rightfully so, but a trusted PCA is essential for me to compete.

“So, in 2021, why as a disabled person am I fighting for my rights? I am 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 concludes.