Senator Maggie Hassan Calls for USOPC Action after Becca Meyers’ Withdrawal from Paralympics

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Photo Courtesy: Kevin McCarthy

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Senator Maggie Hassan Calls for USOPC Action after Becca Meyers’ Withdrawal from Paralympics

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) has written a letter to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) urging it to address inequities in its treatment of athletes. The letter was prompted by Becca Meyers’ withdrawal from the Paralympics over the USOPC’s refusal to grant the deaf-blind swimmer a personal-care assistant at what would’ve been her third Games.

Hassan raised the issue Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Given the USOPC’s dependence on funding and oversight from government bodies like the Senate, Hassan’s formal rebuke holds considerable sway.

From Hassan’s letter:

Ms. Meyers should have never been forced to withdraw from the games because she wasn’t given the necessary support and I strongly urge the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee to work immediately to address this issue. We must ensure that all of our athletes are able to compete safely at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games – including by providing them with necessary accommodations.

Meyers, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Games, had six Olympic medals, including three golds, to her name. She’s a two-time ESPY Award winner and one of the most recognizable names in Paralympic swimming.

The USOPC, citing restrictions on traveling parties to the Tokyo Paralympics due to COVID-19, denied a request for Meyers’ mother to serve as her personal-care assistant on the trip. Over a lack of certainty regarding her safety on the trip, Meyers elected to withdraw from the Games.

Meyers’ situation revealed a bigger issue: The 33-athlete delegation has just one personal-care attendant for the entire team, which includes nine swimmers with low vision like Meyers. That concern is what Hassan primarily raises in her letter.

Meyers wrote an opinion piece for USA Today further explaining her decision. She has received broad support from within the swimming community, including from her sponsor, Speedo.

 

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