Amid speculation that Tokyo might back out of its 2021 Olympics hosting gig because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Florida has put itself forward as a back-up host.
Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer, on Monday pitched Florida as a host for the 2021 Olympic Games in a letter to the International Olympic Committee.
“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,” Patronis continued. “I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done.”
Patronis also made a point of mentioning the Sunshine State’s growing population and praising its distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.
“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, also touting Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s (R) battle to keep the state’s economy open while combatting the spread of the coronavirus.
Florida, the country’s third-biggest state, right now is ranked number four for coronavirus deaths so far during the pandemic with over 25,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. While California had far stricter restrictions than Florida, the former has the second-most deaths so far. New York has the most deaths of any U.S. state, while Texas has the third-most.
Patronis took a moment to promote that Florida “successfully allowed sports to take place during the pandemic,” such as NFL, NBA, and college football games and UFC events. He also bragged about Disney World being open, saying that it is “an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19.”
Due to Florida being a massive tourist destination, Patronis argued that the Sunshine State is well-suited to handle a massive influx of people, listing off the state’s statistics for transportation infrastructure, lodging, already existing sports facilities, and world-renown health facilities in each of the state’s regions.
On January 13, a state of emergency was issued in Japan after the nation surpassed 300,000 COVID-19 cases, according to The Hill.
The upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are set to start in July, were originally supposed to happen last July but were pushed back.
Last Friday, parties responsible for putting together the Tokyo Games emphasized they would be continuing with the scheduled dates of July 23 to August 8, according to The Japan Times.
“I am determined to realize a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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UPDATE: Death toll over 5,100 after massive earthquake in Turkey, Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the areas hit by the massive 7.8 earthquake Monday, a disaster zone. According to reports from the AP and Reuters, the 10 provinces affected by the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey, now have been placed under a state of emergency for three months.
By Tuesday, 70 countries had offered to help the Turkish government with search and rescue operations.
According to the latest reports, the death toll in Turkey had risen to 3,549 people, raising the combined death toll in Turkey and Syria to over 5,151.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday morning, leaving 3,500 lives lost and many buildings destroyed. There is an ongoing search and rescue mission for survivors, according to reports.
According to Fox News, The World Health Organization (WHO) the death toll could increase as much as eight times as rescuers work to find more victims. WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told AFP that, “We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows.”
To make matters worse, a mixture of rain and snow fell throughout the areas Turkey and Syria that were devastated by the earthquake. Eyewitness accounts described citizens as they ran out of their homes after waking up to the violent and thunderous shakes of the earthquake.
The massive earthquake toppled buildings in regions of Syria, which were held by the opposition due to the ongoing civil-war. Access to health and medical services was limited in the impoverished areas.
According to a doctor in Atmeh Syria, 11 people were killed with an unknown number of citizens buried underneath the debris from the toppled apartment buildings and other infrastructure.
The quake was so fierce that it could be felt in Cairo Egypt. The center-point of the quake was located 60 miles from the Syrian border according to Fox News.
Hours later a series of at least 20 aftershock followed the quake. According to Turkish authorities the largest aftershock measured in at a 7.5 magnitude.
On twitter Turkish President, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan said, “We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage.”
The death toll continues to rise in Turkey and Syria.
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