A woman poses for a selfie in front of Olympic rings at Odaiba waterfront in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The postponed Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

A woman poses for a selfie in front of Olympic rings at Odaiba waterfront in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The postponed Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Top Florida official makes pitch for Tokyo Olympics to be moved there, despite pandemic

Japanese government says reports that it is considering canceling the games ‘categorically untrue’

By Skyler Swisher, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Florida’s chief financial officer wants the Olympics to be moved from Tokyo to the Sunshine State, promoting Florida’s willingness to host marquee sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFO Jimmy Patronis sent a letter Monday to the International Olympic Committee touting Florida as an ideal place to hold the Olympics. He referenced reports that the Japanese government has concluded the Summer Olympics will need to be canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

“Whatever precautions are required let’s figure it out and get it done,” Patronis wrote in the letter to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

The Japanese government, though, has called reports that it is considering canceling the games “categorically untrue.”

In an email, the International Olympic Committee’s media team wrote that Patronis’ letter had not been received and referred to a statement issued on Friday that the committee is “committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”

Officials postponed the 2020 Summer Olympics as the new coronavirus spread across the globe. Competition is now set to start on July 23.

Organizers said the cost of the Tokyo Olympics is at least $15.4 billion with an audit by the Japanese government putting the cost even higher at $25 billion, The Associated Press reported. Patronis’ letter did not include details on much it would cost to move the event to Florida and who would pay for it.

Patronis noted in his pitch that Florida allowed sports during the pandemic, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Jacksonville and NBA games in Orlando. The NCAA college football championship was held at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, and the Super Bowl will take place in Tampa.

“Additionally, our international tourist destinations, like Disney parks have been open and operating safely in Florida for some time,” wrote Patronis, who is a statewide elected officer. “In fact, Disney serves as an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19.”

Japan — a nation of 126 million people — has recorded a much smaller number of COVID-19 deaths and infections than Florida, which is home to 21 million people.

As of Monday, Japan has reported 365,899 COVID-19 cases and 5,119 deaths, compared with Florida’s more than 1.6 million COVID-19 cases and 25,293 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

If Patronis is successful, it would be the 10th time the Olympic Games have been held in the United States and the first time in Florida.

READ MORE: For Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic teams, 2020 a year of conviction and frustration


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