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Special Olympics drops vaccine rule after $27M fine threat, Team Indiana heads to competition

Ron DeSantis
Posted at 12:34 PM, Jun 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-05 12:34:23-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — 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 requirements.

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

100 Special Olympics Indiana athletes, Unified partners and coaches, collectively known as Team Indiana, left for Orlando Saturday.

special olympics indiana team
Team Indiana smiles for a photo ahead of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

The USA Games will feature competition in 19 Olympic-type sports, with Team Indiana fielding teams for basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, softball, swimming, track and field, and volleyball and youth leadership.

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.