Olympic dream? CFO urges Summer Games to move from Tokyo to Florida

People walk by posters to promote the Tokyo 2020 Olympics planned to start in the summer of 2021 in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee on Monday encouraging them to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo to the United States and, more specifically, to Florida.

Patronis said he took the action after seeing recent media reports indicating that leaders in Japan have “privately” concluded that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place.

The Olympics are to set open on July 23.

“The state of Florida has successfully allowed sports to take place during the pandemic,” Patronis wrote to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. “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) set up 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. 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 did not mention that the NFL games were held in stadiums limited to 25% to 33% of capacity and Disney World and other theme parks capacity is 50% of normal. Next month’s Super Bowl in Tampa will be limited to 22,000 fans.

In his letter, Patronis detailed the state’s travel infrastructure, noting Florida hosted 131 million visitors in 2019, and highlighted the state’s existing sports facilities between pro and major university stadiums and arenas.

Japan was awarded the 2020 Summer Games in 2013 and has spent at least $25 billion preparing for the Olympics.

Publicly, the International Olympic Committee and organizers in Japan are adamant that the games will happen and are planning for the four-month torch relay across Japan to begin March 25. But the games, scheduled for Summer 2020, were canceled in late March last year.

“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,” Patronis wrote. “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.”

Letter from Florida CFO to International Olympic Committee president