Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has successfully pressured the Special Olympics International to lift their vaccine mandate for the upcoming USA Games in Orlando.
Florida threatened to hit Special Olympics International with a $27 million fine if they did not lift the vaccine requirement.
In a statement published on Thursday, the organization announced that they are “lifting the vaccine requirement for delegation members attending the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games being held in Orlando, Florida, June 5-12, as demanded by the state of Florida officials on May 27, based upon the Florida Department of Health’s interpretation of Florida law.”
“Delegates who were registered for the Games but were unable to participate due to the prior vaccine requirement now have the option to attend,” the announcement added.
Florida’s medical freedom law prohibits employer vaccine mandates and vaccine passports. Events or entities are prohibited from imposing any policies that require proof of COVID vaccination or a “medical exemption” as a condition of entry or participation.
DeSantis discussed the Special Olympics International’s announcement during a press briefing on Friday at the Rio Pinar Golf & Country Club in Orlando.
This is what standing up for your rights is all about – Isabella will now be able to compete in the Special Olympics because @GovRonDeSantis fought their vaccine mandate (which is illegal in FL) and won.
Isabella’s smile says everything. pic.twitter.com/PkGUL3BQi9
— Casey DeSantis (@FLCaseyDeSantis) June 3, 2022
“Your rights or your freedoms should not be circumscribed by your decision to take or not to take a COVID vaccine,” DeSantis said. “That was inappropriate. At the end of the day, our view was there has to be choice in this regard.”
The governor also told the story of a Kansas athlete with Down Syndrome who was denied an exemption from Special Olympics International’s vaccine mandate. The organization allegedly told his family to “get the first dose and if you have a reaction, you’ll be exempted from the second,” which they did. Unfortunately, that first dose prompted a seizure, according to DeSantis.
FYI- Special Olympics Florida organization has been awesome & they did not enact any mandates in violation of Florida law.
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) June 3, 2022
DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted that the issue had only been with the international organization, not the state branch of the organization.
The USA Games will taking place June 5-12.