Even as the coronavirus pandemic rages, Florida’s chief financial officer is pitching the Sunshine State as a replacement host of the 2021 Olympics.
What You Need To Know
- Florida CFO Patronis urges IOC to consider relocating 2021 Olympics from Tokyo
- CFO’s letter cites reports that Japanese officials are considering canceling this year
- Letter touts Disney as “model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19”
In response to reports that Japan has considered canceling the event because of the pandemic, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis on Monday urged the International Olympic Committee to consider relocating the 2021 Summer Games from Tokyo to Florida.
“With media reports of leaders in Japan 'privately' concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida to meet with statewide and local officials on holding the Olympics in the Sunshine State,” Patronis wrote in a letter dated Monday to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. “I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done.”
Patronis’s communications office shared the letter in a news release.
The 2021 Games, rescheduled from last year because of the pandemic, are still officially scheduled for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.
The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee reportedly said Friday that they’re determined to conduct the Games as scheduled.
Yet in his letter, Patronis trumpeted Gov. Ron DeSantis's open economic policies during the pandemic and pitched Florida as a state that has “successfully allowed sports to take place during the pandemic,” citing the NBA's “bubble” format last season at Disney World in Orlando.
He touted that experiment as “an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19.” He also highlighted Florida’s airports, hotel capacity, transportation networks, health care facilities, and university athletic complexes.
“Although I write to you in a professional capacity,” Patronis added in the letter, “I should also add that I am a father of two boys who love sports, and the idea of cancelling the Olympics when there have been so many athletes who have worked so hard for this opportunity is a tough pill to swallow.”
Tampa and Orlando tried unsuccessfully to host the 2012 Olympics, which went to London, and the IOC in 2013 asked Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer whether the city would be interested in hosting the 2024 Olympics, which the organization awarded to Paris.
Patronis’s letter comes as the U.S. crosses 400,000 COVID-19-related deaths, with more than 25,000 in Florida. It also comes during a slow rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and as a coronavirus variant spreads in Florida.