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


FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, May 9, 2022. The Special Olympics has dropped a coronavirus vaccine mandate for its games in Orlando after Florida moved to fine the organization $27.5 million.

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.

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