Special Olympics Drops Vaccine Rule After Threat of $27 Million Fine

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. 

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday announced the organization had removed the requirement for its competition in the state, which is scheduled to run June 5-12. 

“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. 

The Florida health department notified the Special Olympics of the fine in a letter Thursday that 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. DeSantis has strongly opposed vaccine mandates and other virus policies endorsed by the federal government. 

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.