With uncertainty surrounding the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which were already delayed a year due to the COVID pandemic, Florida is throwing its hat in the ring (no pun intended). Florida chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis has petitioned the International Olympic Committee to allow Florida to host the summer games if Tokyo opts out amid lingering COVID concerns.
In arguing for Florida’s Olympic candidacy, Patronis cited the state’s thriving economy under Governor Ron DeSantis while also noting the Sunshine State has hosted a myriad of sporting events throughout the pandemic including the recent College Football National Championship held at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
“When most states shut down their sporting events, the city of Jacksonville hosted the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the UFC) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) set up the ‘bubble’ to hold games in Orlando,” wrote Patronis in a letter sent to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. “Additionally, our international tourist destinations, like Disney parks have been open and operating safely in Florida for some time.”
Patronis also contends Florida has been among the most proactive states in distributing the new COVID vaccine. “Governor DeSantis has partnered with the private sector to rapidly distribute vaccines to our most vulnerable populations,” said Patronis. “Unlike other states, when the COVID-19 vaccine comes to Florida it doesn’t just sit on the shelf wrapped in government red tape; it moves fast to protect our communities.”
According to CNN, a state of emergency was issued in Japan following an outbreak earlier this month with Toyko, the nation’s capital and most-populous city, considered a hot spot for the virus. Of course, Florida has not been immune to the effects of COVID, weathering over 25,000 deaths, the fourth-most of any state behind only New York, California and Texas. Further complicating matters, the World Health Organization recently announced that Olympic athletes will not be prioritized over others in receiving the vaccine.
The United States has hosted the Olympics eight times, most recently in 2002 (site of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics), with plans to host again in 2028 (Los Angeles will be the host city). Florida, specifically Tampa and Orlando, submitted a bid for the 2012 games, though the Olympic committee chose London instead.