Special Olympics Drops Vaccine Mandate After DeSantis Threatens To Impose Fines

The Special Olympics has decided to drop its vaccine mandate for athletes competing at this week’s games in Orlando.

Organizers of the Special Olympics USA Games announced the change in policy after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to impose the games’ governing body with $27.5 million in fines, per ABC News’ Jay O’Brien. The event is expected to host more than 5,500 athletes from around the country. All athletes committed to participating had previously been required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There needs to be a choice in this regard,” DeSantis said during a promotional event in Orlando on Friday, per the New York Post. “Let them compete. We want everyone to be able to compete.”

DeSantis, who has been a staunch supporter of personal freedoms in the Sunshine State, ordered the state to issue $5,000 fines to businesses that operated with a vaccination mandate last year. DeSantis sent a letter to the Special Olympics International Thursday, saying that the vaccination mandate violated state law.

As a result, athletes who were otherwise unable to show proof of vaccination are now permitted to participate in the games.

“Delegates who were registered for the games but unable to participate due to the prior vaccine requirement, now have the option to attend,” the organization said. “We don’t want to fight. We want to play.”


Written by Nick Geddes

Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.

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