American swimmer Becca Meyers has pulled out of the Paralympics because she says the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee won't let her bring her mother to Tokyo as her personal care assistant.
Meyers, who is deaf and blind as the result of a rare genetic disorder, won three gold medals at the last Paralympics. In a statement explaining her withdrawal, she said the USOPC had approved her mother to act as her assistant at all international meets since 2017.
The USOPC said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are increased restrictions on delegation size at the Tokyo Games, which has left the federation only one slot for a PCA who will have to assist 34 Paralympic swimmers. The PCA has more than 27 years of coaching experience and 11 years with para swimmers, the USOPC said.
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“This PCA joins a staff of 10 additional accomplished swim professionals, all who have experience with blind swimmers; totaling 11 staff for 34 athletes,” the USOPC said in a statement.
“The decisions we’ve made on behalf of the team have not been easy, and we are heartbroken for athletes who are unable to have their previous support resources available,” the USOPC said. “We are confident in the level of support we will offer Team USA and look forward to providing them a positive athlete experience even in the most unprecedented times.”
Meyers, 26, said she made the decision to drop out because she is “speaking up for future generations of Paralympic athletes in hope that they never have to experience the pain I've been through.”
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Several members of Congress have seen Meyers' story and taken to social media to voice their support.
“It is disgraceful that she was denied essential and reasonable accommodations, which led to her withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics. Our Paralympic athletes deserve better,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., tweeted.