Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is making a pitch for the 2021 Olympics to be held in Florida amid cancellation speculation.
The 2021 Olympics Games, scheduled to take place this summer in Tokyo, Japan, remain in limbo due to the growing concern surrounding the global pandemic. With COVID-19 infections continuing to spread and public opinion waning in Tokyo, Japan remains under an emergency order, leaving the International Olympic Committee questioning whether the games can take place.
Public opinion in Japan has already turned against the games, with some polls showing that 80 percent of people living in the country say it should be postponed again or canceled.
Committee organizers of the Toyko Olympics have pushed back against such reports, with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stating that there is “no Plan B.” Despite Bach’s reaffirming commitment to hold the sporting spectacle in Tokyo, private rumblings have many fearful that the games could be canceled.
One of those worried about the state of the Olympics is Patronis, who issued a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Monday, encouraging them to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo to the Sunshine State.
“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. I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done,” Patronis wrote to Bach.
Patronis, who has been on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight in Florida, pointed to Florida being the post-pandemic sports capital in the United States, as evident by the state playing host to multiple sporting venues, including the 2020 NBA season in Orlando.
“The State of Florida has successfully allowed sports to take place during the pandemic. 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) setup the “bubble” to hold games in Orlando. Moreover, during football season the National Football League (NFL) and college teams were able to compete on Florida soil,” he continued.
Patronis also insisted that Florida’s infrastructure was strong enough to accommodate the mass influx of patrons, fans, and athletes.
“As a tourism state, Florida welcomed 131 million tourists in 2019. Our state has ample hotel capacity and well-maintained transportation networks to accommodate the kind of infrastructure required for a major undertaking of this sort. Florida has 20 commercial airports, 31 urban transit systems, 12 major universities that have existing sporting facilities – and we have world-renowned health care facilities in each of our regions. I think most importantly, however, we have a state with leaders who are willing to get this done,” Patronis said.
The lead up to the Olympics Games has been anything but chaotic. Originally scheduled to take place on July 23 of 2020, last week marked 10 months since the games were put on hiatus.
A full cancellation would be catastrophic for the sport and would result in huge financial losses for Japan, which has already invested $25 billion in preparing for the event.
Organizers say an official decision on the Olympics will be made by March 25.
To view the full letter, click here.