Paralympian Becca Meyers is known for her drive and determination for success. The deaf-blind swimmer has conquered hurdles throughout her life. This perseverance has led her to the biggest stage of all: the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, where she faces the ultimate obstacle, bureaucratic inaccessibility.
Meyers was told that she is not permitted to travel to the event with her personal care assistant (PCA) despite the risk this could pose to her health. This denial of an accessibility accommodation means Meyers cannot safely participate in the event and forced her to announce her withdrawal.
“We would have loved for her PCA to attend, because she probably would have bought merch, but this is an extremely small, isolated group,” said a representative of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The USOPC invited 11,000 athletes, 40,000 support staff and 35,000 journalists to attend. The decision regarding Meyers’ PCA was reportedly made due to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Soon after, it sparked a new “no accommodation” policy that bans all mobility aids including wheelchairs. The ban is the latest in a series of questionable accessibility decisions, including a move to classify all prescribed medications as disqualifying performance-enhancing drugs.
“We embrace the empowerment of people with disabilities in the Paralympic games,” said the USOPC after the stunning announcement, “but real athletes don’t need accommodations.”