Deaf And Blind Paralympian Quits Team USA Due To Shocking Travel Restrictions
Deaf and blind Paralympian Becca Meyers has quit team USA over travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meyers, who is known for her talents as a swimmer, was seen as a favourite to win gold at the upcoming competition in Japan, having previously secured three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Though Meyers proved successful at the previous Paralympics, the experience also brought to light the struggles she faced in new surroundings, such as being able to find the athletes’ dining hall by herself.
Since then, Meyers’ mother accompanied her to competitions as a personal care assistant, however, the athlete has now been told that her mother will not be able to join her in Tokyo.
In a post shared online, the swimmer said the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) denied her ‘reasonable and essential accommodation’ by telling her she does not need a personal care assistant (PCA) ‘who [she] trust[s]’ because there will be staff on hand.
Meyers highlighted the fact that there will only be one PCA on hand to assist herself alongside 33 other Paralympic swimmers and explained the restriction has come due to ‘new safety measures and limits of non-essential staff’ put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The athlete acknowledged that the restrictions were fair, but explained that a trusted PCA is ‘essential’ for her to compete. As a result, she announced the ‘gut-wrenching decision’ to withdraw from the games.
She commented: ‘I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad to not be representing my country.’
Rick Adams, the USOPC’s chief of sport performance and national governing body services, has told Meyers’ family that while he empathises with them, Tokyo organizers have limited delegations to athletes and essential staff, NPR reports.
Concluding her post, Meyers questioned why she was still having to fight for her rights as a disabled person ‘in 2021’, adding: ‘I’m speaking up for future generations of Paralympic athletes in the hope that they never have to experience the pain I’ve been through.’
The 26-year-old has Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that left her deaf at birth and which over time has also progressively eroded her eyesight.
The Toyko Paralympics is set to begin on August 24.
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