Delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are finally slated to begin. The Olympics will be kicking off on July 23, 2021, and the Paralympics are set to start on Aug. 24, 2021. But with COVID-19 still very much a reality, the games will look a little different this year, with a highly restricted number of people allowed to be at the games and within the Olympic and Paralympic Village.
Unfortunately, that’s created problems for American athlete Becca Meyers, who has Usher syndrome and requires a personal care assistant (PCA) to help her navigate day-to-day tasks while on-site at the games. Many people are wondering about Becca’s parents and why they can’t accompany her.
Keep reading for everything you need to know.
Who are Becca Meyers’ parents?
Three-time Paralympic gold medalist Becca Meyers has announced that she is withdrawing from participating in the Tokyo Games after the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) denied her request to have her personal care assistant (PCA) accompany her.
Becca has Usher syndrome, a rare genetic condition that caused her to become blind. She’s also been deaf since birth and, as a result, needs a PCA to help her with everyday tasks such as figuring out the bus system in a foreign country, locating and eating in the athlete’s dining hall, and more.
As a deaf-blind athlete, Becca says that the USOPC has denied her “a reasonable and essential accommodation,” as she said on Twitter. And as a result, she’s chosen to withdraw from the Games.
She made the point that she shouldn’t have to “fear [for her] safety in Tokyo because [she has] been denied [her] PCA,” as she told ESPN. She added, “How can an organization that prides itself on celebrating athletes with disabilities do this to an athlete with disabilities?”
Since 2017, Becca’s mother, Maria Meyers, has accompanied her daughter to sporting events both in America and internationally as Becca’s official PCA. However, according to coronavirus restrictions in place for the Tokyo Games, Maria has apparently been deemed a nonessential worker.
Maria told ESPN that the family anticipated that she might not be able to accompany Becca because she's her mother, but said that the family repeatedly told the USOPC that Becca needed a PCA “designated just for her,” to help with things like going to the bathroom on the plane and finding her luggage.
Becca’s dad, Mark Meyers, told The Washington Post that despite the USOPC’s claim that its decision is due to restrictions put in place by the Japanese government, the family “contacted the Maryland secretary of state … [and] the Japanese government, the ambassador — they all say it’s not the government [and] it’s not the organizing committee. It’s the USOPC that’s blocking this.”
He went on to say that the committee had known about this since February. “They just did not plan for her," he said. "They said, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.’ They’ve had time to fix this, if they asked the right people. They’ve chosen not to.”
The decision is heartbreaking as it likely means the end of Becca’s Paralympic career after being one of the most decorated athletes at the London and Rio games. It’s a shame the USOPC did not work hard enough to find an accommodation for this promising young athlete who’s worked so hard for all that she’s achieved.