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Paralympic swimmer Becca Meyers leaves Team USA after being denied care assistant

The three-time gold medalist, who is deaf and legally blind, said she's "angry" and "disappointed."
Becca Meyers of the United States competes in the 200m Individual Medley during day 3 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials on June 19, 2021 in Minneapolis.
Becca Meyers of the United States competes in the 200m Individual Medley during day 3 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials on June 19, 2021 in Minneapolis.Stacy Revere / Getty Images file

Becca Meyers, a three-time Paralympic gold medalist swimmer, withdrew from the Tokyo games after being told she couldn't bring her personal care assistant to the competition.

The Baltimore native said it was a "gut-wrenching decision" to leave, but insisted this move was necessary to advocate "for future generations of Paralympic athletes."

"I'm angry, I'm disappointed, but most of all, I'm sad not to be representing my country," Meyers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Meyers, 26, has been deaf since birth due to Usher syndrome and has been gradually losing her vision. The athlete said she was denied her request to bring her personal care assistant, who is her mother, to the games.

Instead, one personal care assistant will be tasked with serving all 34 Paralympic swimmers, nine who are visually impaired, Meyers said.

"The USOPC has denied a reasonable & essential accommodation for me, as a deaf-blind athlete, to be able to compete in Tokyo," Meyers said.

"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 to non-essential staff in place, rightfully so, but a trusted PCA is essential for me to compete."

A representative for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

Meyers drew the support of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, who called this a "preventable situation."

"Individuals who experience disabilities should not be forced to navigate the Tokyo Olympicss without the support that they need," the lawmaker said.

"This is an outrage and a preventable situation that should have never gotten to this point. So I want the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to work immediately to address this issue."

Meyers is one of her sport's most decorated athletes, bringing home three golds, two silvers and a bronze medal from the 2012 London and 2016 Rio games.

Her three golds came five years ago in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and 400-meter freestyle.

She also won silver in the 100-meter freestyle in Rio. Four years earlier in London, Meyers won silver in the 200-meter individual medley and bronze in the 100-meter freestyle.

"So, in 2021, why as a disabled person am I still fighting for my rights?" she wrote. "I'm speaking up for future generations of Paralympic athletes in hope that they never have to experience the pain I've been through. Enough is enough."

Opening and closing ceremonies for the Paralympic Games are on Aug. 24 and Sept. 5, respectively.