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Denied Assistant, U.S. Paralympian Drops Out of Games

July 22, 2021 — U.S. Paralympian Becca Meyers, a three-time gold medal swimmer who is deaf and blind, announced this week that she’s dropping out of the Tokyo Games.

According to Meyers, she made the decision because the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee denied her request to bring her personal care assistant to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She went on to say that a personal care assistant will be on hand to assist, but that she will also be on call for the entire United States Paralympic swim team, which includes 34 athletes, including nine other visually impaired athletes. Deaf Meyers is the only one of the group who is also deaf.

“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad to not be representing my country,” she wrote on Instagram.

From 2017 to the present, Meyers wrote, the committee has permitted her to travel to international competitions with her personal care assistant — her mother. A personal care assistant, on the other hand, is not permitted in Tokyo because of COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions on non-essential staff. Even though she acknowledged the pandemic protocols, she went on to say that she needed “a trusted PCA in order to compete.”

“So, why am I still fighting for my rights as a disabled person in 2021?” she asked in her letter. “I’m speaking out for future generations of Paralympic athletes in the hope that they will never have to go through what I’ve gone through. “I’ve had enough of this.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee said it is working under “unprecedented restrictions around what is possible on the ground in Tokyo.” The vast majority of events are being held without the presence of spectators, and “foreign delegations,” which include personal care assistants, are subject to severe restrictions.

“As a result of this stance, some athletes have advised us that they will not accept a nomination to Team USA for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the committee stated in a statement.

According to the committee, “we are heartbroken for athletes who must make agonising decisions about whether or not to compete when they are unable to access their typical support resources at a major international competition.” We must, however, prioritise ensuring the safety of all of our athletes, coaches, and staff as well as the citizens of the host country.

Meyers, 26, was born with Usher syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that affects both hearing and vision, according to CBS News. Three gold medals and multiple world championships have been won by her during her two-year Paralympic career. In Tokyo, she was scheduled to compete in four different events.

“The Paralympic Games are supposed to be a haven for athletes with disabilities,” Meyers wrote in a column for USA Today after her announcement.

In her letter, she asked, “How could I possibly set foot in a foreign city, with the numerous restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has erected, and expect to feel safe for two weeks?” “How can any of us?” says the author.

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