Special Olympics Caves On Vax Mandate After Facing Huge Fines

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The Special Olympics dropped its vaccine mandate after the organization faced $27.5 million in fines, according to a report.

The organization dropped the requirement late Thursday night ahead of the Orlando games over the weekend after facing state fines for having a vaccine requirement, ABC’s Jay O’Brien reported.

The state argued the vaccine requirement broke state law and confronted the organization after athletes and their family members allegedly complained of the violation, according to O’Brien.

“This letter is notice that the Special Olympics International is assessed a $27.5 million fine for 5,500 violations of Section 381.00316 (1), Florida Statutes, after the Department of Health made repeated attempted to avoid imposing fines against this charitable organization to ensure the 2022 USA Special Olympics could be held in Florida without requiring proof of vaccination from delegates,” a letter from the state read.

Florida law “prohibits a business entity, which includes a charitable organization, from requiring any patron or customer to provide documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business entity,” the letter continued.

In a statement released Thursday, the Special Olympics said “delegates who were registered for the Games but were unable to participate due to the prior vaccine requirement, now have the option to attend.”

“For 54 years, Special Olympics has been brave in the attempt,” the statement continued. “We don’t want to fight. We want to play.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called the move a “relief” during a Friday press conference, according to O’Brien. (RELATED: Gov. DeSantis Launches Government-Wide Effort To Ban Child Sex Changes)

“This will be a relief to a lot of the athletes,” DeSantis reportedly said. “There’s a significant number of them who were in limbo up until this week.”

The Florida Department of Health implemented a rule in September preventing businesses, schools or government agencies from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination. The rule fines businesses $5,000 per violation.