The stage of Paralympics has been set, the much-awaited 2020 Summer Paralympics will begin on Tuesday 24 August 2021 in Tokyo. The glimpse of the extraordinary games at extraordinary times of Covid are mere flashes of the good old days when the host country attracted flowing tourists in the form of audiences for the International games. However, the event is organised under strict restriction amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The times are tough for the host and equally tough for the participants, in the latest sour developments of the Paralympic, Becca Meyers, a deaf and blind American swimmer, has withdrawn from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The reason for her exit is equally worrisome. She said the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) denied her request to bring her mother to serve as her Personal Care Assistant.
“I’ve had to make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics,” Meyers wrote in a statement. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad to not be representing my country.”
Heartbroken to share that I’m withdrawing from the Tokyo Paralympic Games. The USOPC has repeatedly denied my reasonable and essential accommodation because of my disability, leaving me no choice. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/p9tKsbPip2— Becca Meyers (@becca_meyers) July 20, 2021
Meyers took Twitter to express her anguish and wrote that her mother has been her Personal Care Assistant (PCA) at all her international tours since 2017, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, the USOPC denied her request for her mother to serve the role in Tokyo. She further elaborated that the USOPC is providing a single PCA to assist the 33 American Paralympic swimmers, including nine who are visually impaired.
“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,” Meyers wrote.
“So, in 2021, why as a disabled person am I still fighting for my rights? I’m 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.”
Meyers, a 26-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, holds extraordinary career credentials and has six medals to her name from the two previous Paralympics. At the Rio Games in 2016, she won three gold medals in the 100-meter fly, 200-meter individual medley and 400-meter 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. She has been deaf since birth and uses a cochlear implant since she was young, according to her Team USA bio.
Meyers’ predicament has attracted high-level interest. In Congress on Tuesday, US Sen. Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire, spoke about Meyers in a hearing for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“This is an outrage and a preventable situation that should never have gotten to this point,” Hassan said. “I want the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee to work immediately to address this issue, and I want them to ensure that all of our athletes are able to compete safely at this summer’s games, including by providing them the basic supports that they need just to navigate the world,” according to reports.