United States Senator Maggie Hassan has called on the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to rectify Paralympic swimmer Becca Meyers‘ situation in time for her to compete in Tokyo.
Meyers, a six-time Paralympic medalist, announced Tuesday she would not be travelling and competing at the Tokyo 2020 Games after the USOPC denied her the ability to bring her mother/personal care assistant to the Games.
Now, Hassan is calling for change.
Becca Meyers is a six-time Paralympic medalist who withdrew from this year’s games after the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee refused to make the proper accommodations. I was glad to speak with her today about how we can work together to ensure every athlete can compete. pic.twitter.com/MPLzKR7pXE
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) July 21, 2021
“As safety protocols to mitigate COVID-19 are developed and implemented, the essential supports that allow athletes to compete must not fall by the wayside. Too often accommodations for individuals with disabilities are treated as optional instead of necessary – including in places of work, public transportation, and even in hospitals,” Hassan wrote to the USOPC.
“The Paralympic Games should set an example for the world – setting a level playing field that is only possible when athletes with disabilities receive the services and support that they need to be fully included and to compete,” she added.
The USOPC defended its stance, saying a personal care assistant was assigned to the team and were unable to allow any additional people to accompany them due to the protocols in place.
“In the case of U.S. Paralympics Swimming, there is a designated Personal Care Assistant (PCA) assigned to the team,” a USOPC statement said. “This PCA has more than 27 years of coaching experience, including 11 years with para swimmers. Because of the complex nature of these games, the role of the PCA has been filled by a qualified staff member who is able to serve in dual roles and who can assist the team as a whole when needed.”
Just one day since Meyers announced she wouldn’t be going to Tokyo, there has been a strong reaction against the policies in place on social media.
“Ms. Meyers should have never been forced to withdraw from the games because she wasn’t given the necessary support and I strongly urge the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee to work immediately to address this issue,” said Hassan.
“While all Olympic and Paralympic athletes are being impacted this year by COVID-19 safety protocols, athletes must have access to the accommodations necessary for them to safely compete in the games – including access to one-on-one support.”