July 21, 2021

Senator Hassan Pushes to Address Inequities at Tokyo Paralympics

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, in response to the news that Becca Meyers, a six-time Paralympic medalist and member of the U.S.A.’s Paralympics team, was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Paralympics after being denied a reasonable accommodation for her deaf-blind disability, Senator Hassan raised the alarm and pushed for action.

 

Yesterday, Senator Hassan sent a letter to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee as well as the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games calling for action to address the inequities. 

 

In the letter, Senator Hassan writes, “As safety protocols to mitigate COVID-19 are developed and implemented, the essential supports that allow athletes to compete must not fall by the wayside. Too often accommodations for individuals with disabilities are treated as optional instead of necessary – including in places of work, public transportation, and even in hospitals. 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.”

 

Click here to read the full letters. 

 

The Senator also raised the issue at yesterday’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing with COVID-19 experts including NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, calling the situation “an outrage.” 

 

Click here to watch the hearing. 

 

To read more about Becca Meyers’ story and Senator Hassan’s work to address the issue, please see below: 

 

Washington Post: Facing criticism for Paralympian’s withdrawal, USOPC defends athlete support system

By Dave Sheinin

 

[…] Meyers’s story sparked condemnation from fans, the community of advocates for disabled persons and several prominent political leaders.

 

Most notably, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) raised Meyers’s situation during a Senate hearing Tuesday, saying, “This is an outrage — and a preventable situation that should never have gotten to this point. I want the [USOPC] to work immediately to address this issue, and 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.”

 

NBC.com: Paralympic swimmer Becca Meyers leaves Team USA after being denied care assistant

By David K. Li

 

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."

 

[…] 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 Olympics without the support that they need," the lawmaker said.

 

Seacoast Current: NH Sen. Hassan Comes to the Defense of Paralympian Becca Meyers

By Dan Alexander

 

[…] 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.

 

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