A three-time Paralympic gold medalist swimmer withdrew Tuesday from the Tokyo games after officials denied her accommodation request to bring her personal care assistant to the event.
Becca Meyers, a 26-year-old Baltimore native who is both deaf and blind, called the decision “gut wrenching” but necessary to advocate “for future generations of Paralympic athletes,” NBC News reported.
“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad not to be representing my country,” Meyers wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
She also noted in the statement that organizers have determined that one personal care assistant will be tasked with serving all 34 Paralympic swimmers, nine of whom are visually impaired.
Meyers was born deaf, a complication of Usher syndrome, and has been gradually losing her vision, NBC News reported.
According to NPR, officials with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee cited coronavirus restrictions on athletic delegations for denying Meyers’ request.
Meyers, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, has acknowledged publicly that that experience - while exhilarating - was disorienting and caused her to struggle to “accomplish essential tasks on her own, such as finding the athletes’ dining hall,” the outlet reported.
In turn, Meyers’ mother has served as her personal care assistant during competitions since the 2016 games.
“I would love to go to Tokyo,” Meyers told The Washington Post, which first reported her withdrawal. “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.”
More coronavirus pandemic coverage:
©2021 Cox Media Group