by Kevin Dotson | CNN
Becca Meyers, a deaf and blind American swimmer, withdrew from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games after she said the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) asked her to bring her mother to serve as her personal care assistant. Request declined.
“I have had to make the huge decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics,” Meyers wrote in a statement. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but above all, I’m sad for not representing my country.”
Meyers wrote that his mother has served as his personal care assistant (PCA) at all of his international meetings since 2017, but because of Covid-19 restrictions the USOPC has asked his mother to serve in that capacity in Tokyo. His request was rejected. She said the USOPC is providing a single PCA to assist 33 American Paralympic swimmers, including nine who are visually impaired.
“With Covid, there are new safeguards and limits on non-essential workers, okay, but a credible PCA is essential for me to compete,” Meyers wrote.
“So, in 2021, why am I still fighting for my rights as a disabled person? I am speaking to future generations of Paralympic athletes in the hope that they will never have to experience the pain I have gone through. enough is enough.”
CNN has reached out to the USOPC for comment.
Meyers, 26, from Baltimore, Maryland, has won six medals in the last two Paralympics. At the 2016 Rio Games, she won three gold medals in the 100m fly, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle.
She has Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes deafness or hearing loss, and the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa that affects vision and worsens over time. According to her Team USA bio, she has been deaf since she was born and has used a cochlear implant since she was young.
The Olympic Games start on Friday and run until 8 August, and the Paralympic Games take place on 24 August. This year the Games are being held in Tokyo under extraordinary restrictions in an effort to safely hold the mass event amid the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Meyers’ plight has already garnered high-level interest. On Tuesday in Congress, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, spoke about Meyers at a hearing on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
“This is an outrage and preventable situation that should never have reached this point,” Hassan said. “I want the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to act immediately to resolve this issue, and I want them to ensure that all of our athletes are able to compete safely at this summer’s Games, in which they will be able to compete safely.” Including providing the basic support they need to navigate the world.”