According to a report from Fox Business, representatives from the International Olympic Committee have met with Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis regarding the possibility of Florida taking over as hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Games were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 but were pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting between the IOC and Patronis comes a few days after the state originally put forth the idea of taking over the Games from Tokyo. The offer came following a number of conflicting reports, some suggesting the Games would go ahead and some suggesting that they were to be canceled.
Discussing his meeting with the IOC, Patronis explained that “the Olympics are in a tough place – 80% of the Japanese people do not want the games to move forward.” Patronis is referencing two recent polls conducted in early January by Japanese news agency Kyodo and the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). Said polls indicated the low level of support for the Games from Japanese citizens.
“I know the Olympics want Japan,” he said. “I’m just concerned Japan doesn’t want the Olympics.”
The IOC, which has remained steadfast in its commitment to a Tokyo Olympics, did not comment on any meetings with Patronis.
Patronis noted that Florida has already had success in hosting visitors throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Orlando, Florida played host for the 2020 NBA playoffs wherein 22 teams spent several months competing within a spectator-free bubble. Upon the conclusion of the NBA bubble, a report by the LA Times considered the initiative to be a success as the league reported 0 positive tests among those players, referees, coaches, nor any other individuals involved.
Patronis also made reference to the fact that Florida has welcomed over 131 million tourists to the state during the pandemic, a number far higher than Japan reported for the year. According to Japan Tourism Statistics, between January and October of 2020, Japan welcomed a total of 4,000,482 travelers of foreign nationality, excluding those with permanent residence in Japan.
To date, the state of Florida has reported roughly 1.69 million cases of COVID-19 and 26,034. On January 28, 2021, the state reported 11,423 new cases and 202 deaths. The country of Japan has so far reported around 381,000 cases of the virus and 5,503 deaths. On January 28, 2021, the country reports 4,162 new cases and 115 deaths.
While we know that the meeting between Patronis and the IOC occurred, no news has yet been released on whether or not how seriously the IOC is in considering moving forward with plans to relocate the Games to Florida.