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Deaf-blind swimmer withdraws from Tokyo Games over assistant row

21 Jul 2021 / 19:00 H.

COLORADO: Deaf-blind American swimmer Becca Meyers (pix) said on Tuesday she had withdrawn from the Tokyo Paralympics after being told by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee that she could not bring a personal care assistant (PCA) to Japan.

Meyers, whose mother has served as her personal care assistant at all international meets since 2017, said the USOPC told her she did not need a PCA in Japan as there would be one available to assist her and 33 other Paralympic swimmers.

“I’ve had to make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics,” Meyers, a six-time Paralympics medallist, wrote on Twitter. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all, I’m sad to not be representing my country.”

The USOPC did not respond to a request for comment.

Meyers, who was born with Usher syndrome, a condition that affects both vision and hearing, said the USOPC approved her having a PCA at past international events but that there were new safety measures in place because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“With Covid, there are new safety measures and limits on non-essential staff in place, rightfully so, but a trusted PCA is essential for me to compete,” Meyers wrote.

“So, in 2021, why as a disabled person am I still fighting for my rights?

“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.”

Meyers, who took up swimming in 2000, made her Paralympics debut at London 2012, claiming one silver and a bronze. In 2016, she sealed her first three Paralympic titles, as well as a silver medal, setting two world records along the way. – Reuters

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