A top Florida official is actually lobbying the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into moving the upcoming Games to his state should they be canceled in Tokyo.
Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer, wrote to the IOC on Monday asking for the organization to relocate the 2021 Games — which were already postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — to Florida should they be canceled or postponed again.
He cited a recent report that Japanese officials had already determined to cancel the Games completely due to the coronavirus, even though the IOC completely denied the accuracy of that report.
“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. “I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done.”
Patronis argued that Florida’s “ample hotel capacity and well-maintained transportation network” could allow it to successfully hold the Games, and that there are “12 major universities that have existing sporting facilities.”
“I think most importantly, however, we have a state with leaders who are willing to get this done,” Patronis wrote.
Could Florida logistically hold the 2021 Olympics?
Not only is the IOC committed to holding the Games in Tokyo — and has repeatedly said that there is no “Plan B” in place for another location — but the Olympics are due to start in about six months. Planning a worldwide event in that timespan is almost certainly impossible.
It would also take the full support of the federal government to pull it off, and even then it would be very, very unlikely.
Or, as Holy Cross economist and Olympics economic impact expert Victor Matheson put it, Patronis’ plan is “bats*** crazy.”
“The idea that just because Florida has a lot of hotels that they could organize an entire Olympics event within six months is absolutely crazy,” Matheson told the Huffington Post.
The other big issue Matheson pointed out is, of course, the coronavirus.
Not only does the United States lead the rest of the world in both confirmed cases and deaths, but Florida has had the third-most cases among any state in the country, according to The New York Times. The state has repeatedly been a hotspot for the virus, and frequently has ignored or failed to impose necessary social distancing rules and other precautions.
From a coronavirus standpoint, Matheson said, holding the Games in Florida would be “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 said, via the Huffington Post. “It simply means that Tokyo actually cares about whether they want a mass superspreader event in their city while Florida doesn’t.”
Is the IOC even looking to move the Tokyo Olympics?
While Matheson and other Florida officials can argue about their ability to hold the Games all they want, this is the most important part if the puzzle.
The IOC is moving forward with the Olympics in Tokyo.
“We have at this moment no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” IOC president Thomas Bach told the Kyodo News last week. “This is why there is no Plan B, and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful.”
Now, the Olympics could end up getting postponed or canceled for a number of reasons. Japan is currently experiencing a new spike in coronavirus cases, and a January poll found that 77% of Japanese citizens are in favor of canceling or postponing the Games again.
At this point, though, any talk of rescheduling is premature.
“We have not received any information suggesting the Games will not happen as planned, and our focus remains on the health and preparedness of Team USA athletes ahead of the Games this summer,” Team USA said in a statement last week.
While there is plenty of doubt surrounding the upcoming Olympics, one thing is crystal clear: Florida will not be hosting them, no matter how hard officials might push.
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