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Threatened With $27.5M Fine From DeSantis, Special Olympics Drops Vaccine Requirements at Orlando Event

Threatened With $27.5M Fine From DeSantis, Special Olympics Drops Vaccine Requirements at Orlando Event

The Special Olympics has dropped a coronavirus vaccine mandate for its games in Orlando after Florida moved to fine the organization $27.5 million for violating a state law against such rules. The Florida Health Department notified the Special Olympics of the fine in a letter dated Thursday which said the organization would be fined $27.5 million for “5,500 violations” of “state law for requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination for attendees or participants”.

Florida law bars businesses from requiring documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has strongly opposed vaccine mandates and other virus policies endorsed by the federal government, announced on Friday that the Special Olympics had removed the requirement for its competition in the state, which is scheduled to run from June 5th to June 12th. “In Florida, we want all of them to be able to compete. We do not think it’s fair or just to be marginalizing some of these athletes based on a decision that has no bearing on their ability to compete with honor or integrity,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Orlando.

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2021/09/22: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference before newly appointed state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida.
A day after being appointed, Ladapo instituted his first rule giving parents “sole discretion” over whether their child wears a mask at school, and also allowing students who come in contact with the coronavirus to continue attending class if they remain asymptomatic. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Many of the athletes competing at the Special Olympics have medical compromises which could be severely impacted by a largely unvaccinated crowd. In a statement on its website, the Special Olympics said people who were registered but unable to participate because of the mandate can now attend.


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