COVID hysteria strikes down a gifted athlete
Meet Becca Meyers, a Paralympian with Usher syndrome, a disorder that affects vision and hearing. She was born deaf and has implants that allow her to hear in a quiet setting. Her eyesight has gotten worse over the years.
Despite her condition, Becca is a champion swimmer who won a silver and a bronze medal at London 2012. She won three gold medals and one silver medal at the 2016 Rio Games. She's a world-class athlete who has earned her right to compete at the Paralympics this year.
Except Becca won't be competing, thanks to COVID. She didn't catch COVID. She's succumbing to something far more insidious: COVID hysteria.
Becca has been denied the right to have her PCA (personal care assistant) with her, on the grounds that her own PCA is not essential personnel. There is one PCA for the entire swim team, 34 athletes with different disabilities, but Becca is the only one who is legally blind as well as partially deaf. She requires a level of support that one PCA, trying to serve 34 athletes, simply cannot provide.
Mask mandates make it impossible for Becca to communicate effectively with others because she cannot read their lips, and the lack of her own PCA would make it difficult for her to navigate safely around Paralympic venues. Little things that most of us don't even think about, like going to the bathroom on an airplane, picking up luggage, or finding the dorm or the dining room, can be insurmountable obstacles for someone who can't see or hear.
The USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) is well aware of Becca's needs, but it is not willing to designate PCAs as essential personnel. If athletes are unable to compete without their own PCA, the USOPC will replace them.
It would be easy to blame the Japanese government for unreasonable restrictions forbidding PCAs, and the USOPC for spinelessness in combating those restrictions, but the true reason Becca Meyers can't compete is COVID hysteria. The Japanese are so paranoid about catching an illness with a 98% survival rate that they have locked down their country. I would say that if they're so afraid of catching COVID that they will shut out a deaf-blind swimmer's PCA, they shouldn't even be hosting the Olympics, but that ignores the larger problem.
COVID hysteria is all over the world, worse than ever before. There is a vaccine that is supposed to be effective, but, apparently, it's not effective at all. Millions of people all over the world have been vaccinated, but we are still supposed to wear masks and restrict travel and avoid crowds.
It's bad enough when COVID hysteria affects people going about their lives. It's intolerable that COVID hysteria should stop a world-class athlete from competing in the Paralympics, all while lip service is being paid to the myth that the Paralympics is dedicated to giving every athlete the chance to compete on a level playing field. I suppose that at this point, there will always be people cowering behind their masks, but the rest of us should be able to live our lives, and Becca Meyers should certainly be allowed to compete in the Paralympics with her PCA by her side.
Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.
Image: Becca Meyers (cropped). YouTube video.