Florida’s chief financial officer on Monday (local time) told the International Olympic Committee that Florida would be happy to host the Olympics amid speculation that current host Japan may back out.
Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, as Agence France-Presse reports, “to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically 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,” Patronis said, via Agence France-Presse.
The letter, signed by Patronis and posted to Twitter, cites the supposed strength of the state’s vaccination rollout, its economic reopening, and sports events it has hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
➡️ Read my full letter to the International Olympic Committee: https://t.co/8OkzDc3d7H
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) January 25, 2021
He also points to the fact that its theme parks, like Disney World, are open for business.
However, Florida has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 25,000 deaths so far in the state as the United States’ death toll from the virus nears 420,000.
“Whatever precautions are required let’s figure it out and get it done,” Patronis said.
According to Agence France-Presse, on Friday, parties responsible for organising the Tokyo Games insisted they would be sticking to the planned dates of 23 July to 8 August.
“I am determined to realize a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, as reported by The Japan Times.
It comes after the games, which were scheduled for last July, were delayed for a year because of the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, economist Victor Matheson, said to be an expert in the economic impacts of Olympic Games, told the Huffington Post Florida’s proposal is “absolutely crazy” and “mind-bogglingly stupid”.
“Let’s be honest here: If Tokyo is not safe enough due to COVID to host the event, there’s no way in a million years, Florida is safe enough to host the event,” he told Huffington Post.
“It simply means that Tokyo actually cares about whether they want a mass super spreader event in their city while Florida doesn’t.”
In addition, Andrew Zimbalist, another expert on the economic impacts of the Olympics, told Huffington Post that Patronis’ pitch was “bonkers”.
“This is an idiotic, delusional, uninformed, ignorant Florida politician trying to put his name out there,” Zimbalist told the outlet.
“And whether or not he himself believes this can be done, I don’t know. It’s got no chance. It’s just stupid.”
Additionally, new White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked during a press briefing if Joe Biden’s administration would support the Florida proposal.
The absurd Florida Olympics story reaches the White House. pic.twitter.com/7CZGGLu8j1
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) January 26, 2021
“That’s a lot of steps that need to take place and I don’t know the entire process of the Olympics,” Psaki said.
“But I would certainly think to send you to the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee first on what their assessment of that offer is and certainly of course what their assessment is of Japan’s preparedness for the Olympics.”
NBC Olympics correspondent Nick Zaccardi tweeted a clip of Psaki’s response, saying: “The absurd Florida Olympics story reaches the White House.”
“Well that question caught her off guard,” one user said, to which Zaccardi responded: “She handled it well.”
Featured image source: iStock/stefko
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