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Award-winning Deaf-blind Paralympian bows out of Tokyo Games after officials deny her request for certain disability services
BALTIMORE, Maryland - A six-time Paralympic medalist selected to be a participant in the 2020 Tokyo Games says she is choosing not to attend the Games due to being treated as if she's, "a burden on the team."
After months of intense training, a celebrated Baltimore-based swimmer named Becca Meyers was looking forward to competing for at least four medals in Tokyo.
She knew she had a chance at winning, because she'd won before.
In the 2016 Rio Games, Meyers walked away with three well-deserved gold medals.
But when Meyers, who happens to be Deaf-blind due to a genetic disorder called Usher's Syndrome, was informed by U.S. Olympic officials that she was not allowed to bring her personal care assistant (PCA)/mother with her to assist her in navigating the foreign city and the Olympic venue, the 26-year-old award-winning athlete said she felt obligated to bow out of the games.
Meyers decision to forgo the Tokyo Olympics may be a career-ending move. But the devoted athlete said she had to make the tough choice so as to, "say something to effect change."
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“I would love to go to Tokyo,” Meyers told the Washington Post. “Swimming has given me my identity as a person. I’ve always been Becca the Swimmer Girl. I haven’t taken this lightly. This has been very difficult for me. [But] I need to say something to effect change, because this can’t go on any longer.”
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) sent Becca's father, Mark Meyers, a June email that attributed the denial of his daughter's request to COVID-19 regulations that strictly limited who is and isn't allowed to travel to Tokyo as a member of an Olympic delegation.
But the swimmer and her family maintain that this excuse is not accurate and say they believe the USOPC simply chose not to allocate one of its limited essential personnel slots for Meyers' mother/PCA.
Meyers told the Washington Post, “We contacted the Maryland secretary of state we had somebody contact the Japanese government, the ambassador — they all say it’s not the government [and] it’s not the organizing committee. It’s the USOPC that’s blocking this.”
“They can ask for more [official credentials]," he continued. "They just did not plan for her. They knew about this [issue] in February. They said, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.’ They’ve had time to fix this, if they asked the right people. They’ve chosen not to.”
As one of her arena's most celebrated and decorated athletes, Meyers felt that forgoing the Games would make a statement about the importance of ensuring that athletes with disabilities are provided with whatever tools or accommodations they require to facilitate equal access at sporting events.
“This is the Paralympics," Becca Meyers told the Post. "We should be celebrating everyone’s disabilities. We’ve broken barriers in society, defying all odds. And yet this is how we’re treated? Like a burden on the team?”
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