After mounting pressure from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Special Olympic International (SOI) stripped its Covid-19 vaccine requirement for those participating in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in the Sunshine State.
SOI announced its decision Friday, stating, “Delegates who were registered for the Games but were unable to participate due to the prior vaccine requirement now have the option to attend.”
According to Florida Politics, DeSantis has been fighting against the SOI vaccine requirements for months, threatening to impose a $27.5 million fine on the organization. The governor argued the requirement infringed the state’s ban on vaccine passports issued last year.
“Florida will always be welcoming to all of our athletes with disabilities, regardless of COVID vaccination status,” DeSantis said while joined by SOI athletes and their families, coaches, and disability community members.
“Special Olympics International should have never imposed a vaccine mandate on their athletes,” he continued. “Special Olympians who were in limbo for months will now be able to compete in Florida thanks to our continued actions to keep Floridians’ medical decisions private.”
State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo also vowed to fight for individual rights, affirming that “Governor DeSantis and I will fight for your rights. For the sake of anyone that has been coerced to make a medical decision they did not want to make, I will fight for your rights.”