by Shaun Heasley
A two-time Paralympic swimmer who is deaf and blind is withdrawing from the Tokyo games, saying that she had “no choice” after being told she couldn’t have a personal care assistant accompany her.
Becca Meyers, 26, said in a statement this week that she made the “gut-wrenching decision” because the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee “denied a reasonable & essential accommodation for me, as a deaf-blind athlete, to be able to compete in Tokyo.”
Since 2017, Meyers said that the committee has approved her mother to serve as her personal care assistant at all international meets, but because of COVID-19 restrictions that accommodation was denied this time around.
Meyers said that she was repeatedly told by the committee that she did not need a personal care assistant who she trusts. Rather, there would be one assistant on staff to help her and 33 other Paralympic swimmers including nine who are visually impaired like her, she said.
According to her Team USA profile, Meyers, who is from Baltimore, has Usher syndrome and has been deaf since birth. She has used a cochlear implant since she was young.
Meyers won silver and bronze at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and took home three gold medals and one silver at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. She was also named Best Female Athlete with a Disability at the 2015 ESPY Awards.
“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad not be representing my country,” Meyers said. “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.”
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee did not respond to a request for comment.
The Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5.