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.”