WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) recently led nine of her colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) requesting American Paralympic athletes be allowed to have their own Personal Care Assistant (PCA) accompany them during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
This letter is in response to USOPC’s decision, along with other Olympic leadership committees, to permit only essential staff into Japan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential staff does not include PCAs, meaning Paralympic athletes may have to compete without their proper care person or drop out of the games entirely.
The letter reads in part, "We understand the decision made by the five Olympic-affiliated entities to reduce on-site staff due to the pandemic. However, a PCA is essential for athletes with disabilities and impairments. Disabled athletes without a PCA could potentially find themselves in high-risk situations. It is unreasonable to expect these individuals to navigate and compete in the games without assistance, and a PCA should fall under the category of essential staff. With access and availability of vaccines, we see this safety measure as unnecessary. As Members of Congress, we encourage USOPC to ensure that all athletes receive the reasonable accommodations they request as a result of their disability. All participants in the Paralympic Games should have the support they need to feel comfortable competing on behalf of the United States of America."
In addition to Congresswoman Miller, the letter is signed by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Brian Mast (R-FL), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Brad R. Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL).
Click here to read the full letter.