Tokyo Olympics Set To Go On ‘Regardless’ Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori vowed to proceed with the Summer Olympics “regardless” of the pandemic, squashing rumors that the games would be canceled.

“We will hold the Olympics, regardless of how the coronavirus [situation] looks,” Mori said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. “We must consider new ways of hosting the Olympics.”

The virus surged in Japan last month, prompting a lockdown that ordered people to remain indoors and limit activity at restaurants and bars. But that is set to end on Sunday.

Last week, a top Florida official has informed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the state is ready to host the summer Olympics games, planned for July 23 to Aug. 8, if host country Japan dropped out.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Jan. 25 sent a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach “to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically to Florida.”

“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,” Patronis wrote in the letter. “I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done.”

Patronis touted Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” he wrote. “Moreover, Governor [Ron] 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.”

But at the time, Bach also expressed confidence that the games will occur. “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,” Bach said. “This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful.”

Still, Florida’s chief financial officer said, the state 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.”

And Patronis said Florida was able to reopen its international tourist destinations, including Disney’s theme parks, which “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,” he added.

He also took a personal angle in his letter to the IOC president: “Although I write to you in a professional capacity, I should also add that I am a father of two boys who love sports, and the idea of cancelling the Olympics when there have been so many athletes who have worked so hard for this opportunity is a tough pill to swallow. I’ve always believed that sports and competition makes our world a better place, and these athletes demonstrate to children around the world that when you work hard, and put your mind to something, anything is possible.”

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