Deaf-blind Paralympic athlete withdraws with parting shot at Olympic officials

An athlete who was slated to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Paralympic Games has withdrawn and issued a blistering statement criticising the Games’ organisers.

In a statement released on her Twitter account, swimmer Becca Meyers wrote that she was withdrawing after US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) denied her request to allow a personal care assistant (PCA) to attend the Games, citing limits on what it called non-essential personnel.

Her statement noted that USOPC officials had informed her and other athletes that just one on-staff PCA would be on-site to assist a total of nearly three dozen athletes, including nine others with blindness.

“The USOPC has repeatedly denied my reasonable and essential accommodation because of my disability, leaving me no choice,” wrote Ms Meyers.

“The USOPC has approved me having a trusted PCA (my mom) at all international meets since 2017, but this time it’s different. With Covid, there are new safety measures and limits of non-essential staff in place, rightfully so, but a trusted PCA is essential for me to compete,” she continued.

Her withdrawal comes amid a barrage of bad news for the Olympics’ organisers; Team USA was already involved in a controversy over the disqualification of sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for marijuana use, while the Olympic Committee has also faced general criticism over the decision to go ahead with the Games despite surging Covid-19 rates in Japan.

An alternate for the US Women’s Gymnastics Team, 18-year-old Kara Eaker, also tested positive for the virus in recent days, forcing her to bow out of consideration for competition in Tokyo.

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