Becca Meyers Leaves Paralympic Team After Being Told She Can’t Bring Assistant

Becca Meyers, a six-time Paralympic medalist and three-time Paralympic gold medalist, has announced that she will not be competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games after being told that she could not travel with her mother or personal care assistant to Tokyo.

Meyers, who is the only member of Team USA’s named 34swimmer team who was considered both deaf and blind, told the Washington Post:

“I would love to go to Tokyo. 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. I need to say something to effect change because this can’t go on any longer.”

Meyers elaborated on the news on Tuesday morning via her Twitter account:

For Meyers, the decision comes due to what she says is a lack of support from governing bodies surrounding the Paralympic Games. While she has always had to travel with a personal care assistant, both for swimming and life, she was told that she wouldn’t be allowed to have one with her in Tokyo due to limitations on the number of staff each country can bring.

According to Meyers, the USOPC repeatedly told her that her assistant was prohibited by the organizers of the Games and the Japanese government. However, according to the Meyers family, the decision came down to the USOPC deciding against using one of its staff allotments on her. In conversations with the Japanese government, the family was told that the USOPC failed to ask for extra staff credentials, limiting their ability to extend one to Meyers’ mother, who would have acted as her assistant in Tokyo.

The USOPC issued a statement to the Washington Post saying:

“We are dealing with unprecedented restrictions around what is possible on the ground in Tokyo. As it’s been widely reported, [the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games], at the direction of the government of Japan, is not permitting any personnel other than operational essential staff with roles related to the overall execution of the games, into the country.

Since first competing in the London Paralympics, Meyers has become one of the most decorated and recognized Paralympic athletes in the United States. In 2015 and 2017, she was recognized by ESPN with an ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability. She has trained with both the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and Nation’s Capital Swim Club, two of the most prolific swim teams in the United States. Throughout her career, she has set numerous American and World records in the S13 classification.

The 26-year old won the 400 free, 100 fly and 200 IM in the S13 category at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. While deafness is not a classification for Paralympic swimming, Meyers competes in the S13 classification because of her visual impairments. Athletes in the S13 classification are considered to have the least-severe visual impairment of the three blind categories in Paralympic swimming, with S11 being the most-severe.

Becca Meyers‘ Suit Sponsor Speedo released the following statement on the topic: “Becca has been forced to make a decision that no Paralympian should ever have to make and Speedo fully supports her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. As a valued member of Team Speedo, we continue to stand alongside Becca and support her journey and all that makes her an inspiring role model for the next generation of swimmers.”

 

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Hswimmer
5 days ago

This is just messed up.

Woke Stasi
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 days ago

Tough situation for Becca. I hope a solution can be found to accommodate her.

You know who else got left behind that I really feel sorry for? RYAN HELD.

Idc
5 days ago

Completely ridiculous but I don’t see how this falls on the USOPC

Alex Dragovich
Reply to  Idc
5 days ago

Seems like the Japanese govt and USOPC are busy pointing the finger at each other while this athlete loses out. It’s an outrage and I’m glad she’s drawing attention to it.

Last edited 5 days ago by Alex Dragovich
Tomek
Reply to  Idc
4 days ago

If the below is correct USOPC is not without blame “In conversations with the Japanese government, the family was told that the USOPC failed to ask for extra staff credentials, limiting their ability to extend one to Meyers’ mother, who would have acted as her assistant in Tokyo.”

Wolfie4525
5 days ago

It seems as though the needs of the athletes are outweighed by Covid protocols. 9 visually disabled athletes and one PCA is very difficult.. anyone who has been on Paralympic teams understands how hard that would be, I hope this can be resolved because the Tokyo Paralympics needs you Becca!

Taa
4 days ago

Counterpoint. Paraswimmers can handle a swim meet on their own. They do it all the time. She is being a diva. Okay it’s not ideal to be that understaffed but suck it up and swim the meet

Hswimmer
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

You’re being the diva.

MNSwimmer
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

You’re kidding? Counterpoint, you’ve clearly never worked with someone who has a disability. This may be one of the absolute rudest and ignorant comments I’ve ever seen on SwimSwam.

He said what?
Reply to  MNSwimmer
4 days ago

This IS the most ignorant and rudest comment on SwimSwam ever!

Walter
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

I don’t understand the situation, but as a person with poor vision that is correctable, I can’t imagine navigating strange places alone without being able to see or hear much.

MickeyMouse
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

Forget about being on an unfamiliar pool deck, she’d literally be on the other side of the world without a familiar guide. You try closing your eyes and wandering the streets of Tokyo, see how you like it.

LAMA
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

what is wrong with you? disgraceful thing to say & believe….. This decision is yet another example of finger pointers (USOPC & “decision makers” in Japan) not thinking logically while hoping to fly beneath the radar

Tomek
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

He is just a bad troll, best to ignore

50free
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

So tru why doesn’t she just see. (Sarcasm)

Katie
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

How do you expect her to receive information or communicate with anyone without a PCA/assistant trained in her form of communication? I believe she’s the only Deaf athlete on the team, but signing ASL to sighted people is way different than signing to people who are Deaf or HoH.

Taa
Reply to  Katie
4 days ago

She has an implant. The responses to my comment show the para movement has a long long way to go to change perceptions of what people with disabilities are capable of doing. This whole pity the deaf and blind girl is just wrong. We should be holding the usopc accountable for being incompetent

He said what?
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

This isn’t pity, it’s EMPATHY!

Katie
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

No, she primarily lipreads. That doesn’t work when masks are required everywhere except sleeping and in the pool. Have you read about her experiences in Rio? What a nightmare! As a disabled athlete who isn’t nearly good enough to dream of being at this level, I see the realities of her situation based on her own descriptions of her needs.

ZH
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

You just pulled a Ken Roth. No, she is deaf and blind, asking for an assistant/travel companion is not only not being a diva it is the responsible thing for her to do.

Julie Wolfe beadle
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

Obviously you have never been on an international Paralympic trip- especially as a deaf and blind athlete- Julie Wolfe Beadle – Paralympian 1988- 1992-1996

Chad
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

Bruh she’s considered both deaf and blind and going to a foreign speaking country. She needs an assistant.

SwimMom
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

Are you deaf and blink in a foreign country? Wanting an assistant is being a diva?

Cheryl DeFelice
Reply to  Taa
4 days ago

Umm she’s legally blind! How ignorant and rude of you. My husband knows this young woman and she’s not a DIVA.

Dazed & Confused
4 days ago

How are personal coaches who are NOT official Olympic team staff being granted admittance to the games (see IG posts from college/club coaches from the Tokyo pool) yet someone as essential as a personal care assistant to a Paralympic athlete is not allowed?

Admin
Reply to  Dazed & Confused
4 days ago

You’d have to provide examples of the college/club coaches.

Lots of American college coaches are on other countries’ Olympic staffs.

Dazed & Confused
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 days ago

Ah! I did a quick search on a couple of these coaches. They are indeed on Olympic staffs for other countries. My bad on that account.

Still gross oversight to not provide sufficient and essential support for these USOP athletes.

Dee
4 days ago

A single PCA for an entire Paralympic swim team is frankly outrageous. The Games clearly should not be going ahead if athletes can’t even be provided the bare minimum of what you’d expect.

Last edited 4 days ago by Dee
Admin
Reply to  Dee
4 days ago

This is another in a very long list of “the obvious decision is right in front of you, go ahead and make it” bad decisions for sports governing bodies in the last few months.

Mel
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 days ago

If you knew the para swimming arm of the USOPC you’re not the least bit surprised.

ZH
Reply to  Mel
4 days ago

mmmm tell us how you really feel

Katie
Reply to  Mel
4 days ago

Track is talking about trying to take Para Track under their NGB. Would Para Swimming be better off under USA Swimming?

Taa
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 days ago

I wonder if you dig to the bottom of this if they are really at a lower staffing level than Rio or a normal worlds meet. It seems to be more of a screw up by the usopc to apply for the proper credential for her mom.

Swim Fan
4 days ago

This is so wrong. If the major news media outlets would grab this story and run with it I’m pretty sure the decision would be reversed.

OWCoach
4 days ago

Here’s more to her story from an article in the Washington Post this morning … I believe this makes her position even more reasonable!

Five years ago, Becca Meyers was on the floor of her room in the Olympic Village at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, balled up and sobbing, frustrated and terrified. She had stopped eating because she couldn’t find the athletes’ dining area. Even after her parents rescued her and pumped her full of calories and confidence in time for her to win three gold medals and a silver for Team USA, she made a promise to herself:
She would never put herself through such a nightmare again.