June 23, 2024


Science It Works

Becca Meyers, six-time Paralympic medalist, withdraws from 2021 Games after being denied medical accommodation

Becca Meyers, one of Team USA’s most decorated Paralympians, withdrew from the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after her request to bring a personal care assistant was denied.  The deaf-blind 26-year-old wanted her mother to serve as her PCA, claiming the alternative was one PCA for all 34 Paralympic swimmers. 

In a social media post, Meyers explained her decision, and shared her side of the story about the accommodations that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee offered her.

“The USOPC has denied a reasonable & essential accommodation for me, as a deaf-blind athlete, to be able to compete in Tokyo, telling me repeatedly that I do not need a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) “who I trust” because there will be a single PCA on staff that is available to assist me and 33 other Paralympic swimmers, 9 of whom are also visually impaired. 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.”   

When Meyers does compete, she dominates. The Baltimore native, who was born deaf as a result of Usher syndrome and has gradually lost her vision since, won three gold medals and a silver at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. She claimed silver and bronze in the 2012 London Games. 

Though Meyers found success in the 2016 Paralympics, it wasn’t an entirely joyful experience. Meyers told the Washington Post she initially couldn’t find the dining hall during the Games and resultantly stopped eating, an experience that “frustrated” and “terrified” her. 

Meyers, who vowed to never allow an experience like that to happen again, told the Post she discussed her PCA concerns with the USOPC in May. Those talks didn’t go far. 

“They talked right over me,” Meyers told the Post. “They dismissed me. They said, ‘This is what we have; you’re going to have to deal with it.'”

New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan came to Meyers and other disabled athletes’ defense during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing Tuesday. 

The 2021 Paralympic games, which Meyers will no longer be a part of, are slated to run August 24-September 5 in Tokyo.