America’s ‘absolutely crazy’ Olympics plot
Florida's chief financial officer told the International Olympic Committee this week that the state would be happy to host the Olympic Games amid speculation current host Japan may back out.
Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, "to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically to Florida".
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"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," he said.
The letter, signed by Patronis and posted online, cited the supposed strength of state's vaccination rollout, its economic re-opening and sports events it has hosted during the pandemic, as well as the fact that its theme parks, including Disney World, are open for business.
But Florida has struggled badly in the coronavirus pandemic, with over 25,000 deaths so far in the state as the US death toll soars above 420,000.
"Whatever precautions are required let's figure it out and get it done," Patronis said.
Last week, parties responsible for organising the Tokyo games - scheduled for last year but delayed for a year because of the global health crisis - insisted they would be sticking to the planned dates of July 23 until August 8.
"I am determined to realise a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus," said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
New White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked during a press briefing on Wednesday if Joe Biden's administration would support such a proposal from Florida.
"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."
Veteran NBC Olympics correspondent Nick Zaccardi responded to a clip of Psaki's response, tweeting: "The absurd Florida Olympics story reaches the White House.
"She handled it well."
Economist Victor Matheson, 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 said.
"It simply means that Tokyo actually cares about whether they want a mass superspreader event in their city while Florida doesn't."
Another expert on the Olympics' economic impacts, Andrew Zimbalist, told Huffpost Patronis' pitch was "bonkers".
"This is an idiotic, delusional, uninformed, ignorant Florida politician trying to put his name out there," Zimbalist said. "And whether or not he himself believes this can be done, I don't know. It's got no chance. It's just stupid."
Originally published as America's 'absolutely crazy' Olympics plot