NH Sen. Hassan Comes to Defense of Paralympian Becca Meyers
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, came to the defense on Tuesday of Paralympian Becca Meyers who withdrew from the games because she was denied a "reasonable accommodation" while she would be competing in Tokyo.
Meyers, a swimmer who is deaf and blind, said in a USA Today op-ed column she was denied having her own personal care assistant with her by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Instead, one PCA will be on call for 33 members of the Paralympic swim team.
NBC 4 New York reported Meyers' PCA is her mother.
A PCA helps athletes become familiar with new situations and navigates details like where to check in and where to get meals, allowing Paralympians to focus on competition.
"How could I possibly set foot in a foreign city, with the numerous restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put up, and expect to feel safe for two weeks," Meyers wrote.
During a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday Hassan called the decision an "outrage." She asked the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, as well as the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to rectify the situation.
"I want them to ensure that all of our athletes are able to compete safely at this summer’s games – including by providing them the basic supports that they need just to navigate the world," the Democrat told the committee.
Hassan said the decision was made by the Olympic Committee because of COVID-19 restrictions in place at the games.
"The Paralympic Games should set an example for the world – setting a level playing field that is only possible when athletes with disabilities receive the services and support that they need to be fully included and to compete," Hassan said in a statement.
Hassan later on her social media said she spoke with Meyers and hoped to work with her to ensure every athlete can compete.
According to Hassan's campaign website, her son Ben "experiences severe disabilities" which inspired her first run for public office.
In a statement Wednesday to the Washington Post, the USPOC said "the safety, well-being and positive experience of all Team USA athletes is our number one priority. We take pride in being the best-prepared [national Olympic committee] and [national Paralympic committee] in the world, and that includes supporting all athletes as they navigate the excitement, and complexity, of the Olympic or Paralympic Games."