With Olympics in Jeopardy, Florida Offers to Step Up and Save the Day


A top state official has thrown Florida’s hat into the ring as a venue for the now-2021 Olympic summer games, should officials in Japan again decide the coronavirus pandemic justifies yet another postponement of the quadrennial event.

Tokyo was set to host the 2020 summer games beginning last summer, but the event was deemed unsafe. Eventually, the games were rescheduled for this year, and the International Olympic Committee is currently set to light the torch in July — coronavirus or not — in Tokyo.

But amid rumors that officials in Japan were still uneasy about hosting the summer Olympics, Jimmy Patronis, the chief financial officer for the state of Florida, on Monday wrote to the IOC and applied for the job of games host on Florida’s behalf. Like a bold job candidate, the state official went for it, offering to save the day.

In a correspondence directed at IOC president Thomas Bach, Patronis, a Republican, argued that Florida deserves consideration if Tokyo again postpones the summer games.

“Today, I am writing to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically to Florida,” Patronis wrote. “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.”

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“I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done. Prior to the pandemic, Florida was welcoming 900 people per day to our state, and in the past few years overtook the State of New York for total population. When most of the major states were shutting down their economies, we were fortunate enough to have a Governor that recognized the important balance of fighting the virus with keeping the economy open.”

Patronis added some praise for GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his letter, putting the IOC on notice that the first-term leader has handled a curveball of a year with flying colors.

“DeSantis has partnered with the private sector to rapidly distribute vaccines to our most vulnerable populations. Unlike other states, when the COVID-19 vaccine comes to Florida it doesn’t just sit on the shelf wrapped in government red tape; it moves fast to protect our communities,” Patronis wrote.

The Sunshine State, of course, hosted last year’s NBA season in the Orlando bubble after the season was suspended in March. The state also boasts opened businesses, a working vaccine plan and lucid leadership — and will host the Super Bowl next weekend in Tampa.

Do you think Florida has a chance at landing the Olympics if Japan backs out?

Florida is a bright spot with regard to leadership and good governance, and it has been throughout the pandemic. Using Florida’s positive attributes and working policies, Patronis went to work on the IOC in his letter.

“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,” he added

“Moreover, during football season the National Football League (NFL) and college teams were able to compete on Florida soil. Additionally, our international tourist destinations, like Disney parks have been open and operating safely in Florida for some time. In fact, Disney serves as an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19.”

Patronis concluded the letter, “Whatever precautions are required let’s figure it out and get it done. Please contact my office … to schedule a meeting.”

Apparently for good measure, he used social media to ensure the IOC saw his offer:

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The Florida CFO was still politicking his case on Twitter on Wednesday.

Officials in Japan are denying rumors that there are detractors in their ranks who are hesitant to host the coming games.

“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will have to be cancelled. This is categorically untrue,” read a statement last week from the country’s Olympics organizing committee, NBC News reported.

That’s a pretty strong denial, but it remains to be seen if the games will go on as scheduled. If the country indeed pulls out of hosting for a second time, the IOC would be foolhardy not to view Florida as a soft landing spot.

If Patronis’ letter were a job interview, he knocked it out of the park. Considering an exceptional candidate, whether you’re hiring or not, is always good for business. The Olympics, despite the pageantry and glamour, is a business. Right now, it’s a company that might not have an office for the second summer in a row, if rumors are true.

Currently, the Olympics is operating with a partner that might not be reliable, even if criticism about its uncertainty of the Tokyo games might not be fair, with all things considered.

Florida, meanwhile, sits opposite at a table with the IOC with a clean résumé and a smile that promises boundless opportunity and plenty of sunshine.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.