Arek Sarkissian at Politico:
The Special Olympics reversed its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for upcoming competitions in Orlando after Florida threatened event organizers with a $27.5 million fine over the requirement.
The Special Olympics issued a statement on Friday saying it will lift its mandate as directed by state officials on May 27 “based upon the Florida Department of Health’s interpretation of Florida law.”
This year’s Special Olympics USA Games are set to kick off Sunday and will wrap up on June 12. The event is expected to attract 4,000 athletes.
The Florida Department of Health sent a letter to Special Olympics International threatening the $27.5 million fine on Thursday. A copy of the letter, first reported on Twitter by ABC News, states that the Special Olympics had asked 5,500 people to provide proof of vaccination in order to gain access into the 2022 USA Special Olympics Games, which violates a state ban on requiring proof of vaccination.
“[Special Olympics International] was unable to bring the event into compliance for the benefit of their delegates,” the letter says. “And reinstate all who were denied access based on proof of vaccination.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday during a press conference hailed the decision by the Special Olympics to reverse the vaccine mandate as a win for the thousands of athletes who are expected to compete in the games. He said the mandate marginalized those players, especially those who have some immunity after previously testing positive for the virus.