Dave Barry: Sure, it’s a crazy idea to move the Tokyo Olympics to Florida. So what?

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Dave Barry
·4 min read
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Florida, we can do this!

I’m talking about hosting the Olympics.

As you may be aware, our state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis — that’s right, our chief financial officer is named “Jimmy” — has written a letter to the members of the International Olympic Committee proposing that they move the 2021 Olympic Games from Tokyo to Florida. I swear I am not making this up.

Some people say this is a crazy idea. Not me. I say it’s a unique opportunity for us, as Floridians, to join together and work toward a common goal that would make us all proud of our state; namely, taking the crack pipe away from our chief financial officer.

Ha ha! But seriously, maybe Jimmy is on to something. Other than drugs, I mean. How hard can it be, hosting the Olympics? Granted, it’s a vast, enormously complex undertaking requiring many years of planning and preparation. And granted, Japan has spent something like $25 billion on Olympic-related infrastructure, facilities, security, etc. And granted, the Games are scheduled to start on July 23, which means Florida would have a little less than six months to get ready.

But we’re Florida, dammit! We can handle a challenge! We are calm under pressure! Look at how we handle hurricane season. When a storm is coming our way, do we panic? No! We calmly swarm to Publix and buy all the bottled water and tuna fish we can get our hands on. The average Florida household currently contains enough bottled water to float an aircraft carrier; some of us still have tuna fish from Hurricane Andrew. But when the next storm comes, we will swarm to Publix and buy more. That is how calm we are.

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Florida can also handle big, complex projects. Look no further than the Palmetto Expressway, which, based on how long it has been under construction, is the biggest and most complex engineering project in the history of the world. Yet we are handling it! And some day, God willing, we will actually finish it! Of course none of us will be alive when that happens. But it WILL happen! Probably!

For a more current example of Florida handling a complex task, consider the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. It could not be smoother. Anybody who qualifies to be vaccinated simply has to dial a phone number several hundred times in hopes of eventually getting through to a recording that says if you leave your name and number somebody will contact you, although nobody ever actually does. Or, if you prefer a “high-tech” approach, you can go to a website and within seconds be informed that no vaccine appointments are available. The choice is yours!

So Florida clearly has the organizational “know-how” to host the Olympics. But do we have the facilities? Do we have a world-class track-and-field stadium? A state-of-the-art aquatic center? Do we have secure venues for basketball, gymnastics, boxing, horse jumping, wrestling, weightlifting, karate, judo, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, badminton, table tennis, softball, mountain biking, lawn darts and all the other Olympic events?

Not at the moment, no. But what we DO have is existing tourist attractions that could easily be adapted for Olympic events. At the head of the list, obviously, is Disney World, which offers many exciting venue possibilities. Space Mountain, for example. It’s a large structure: Why not hold, say, the Olympic fencing competition inside? Granted, it’s pitch black in there. But I have watched Olympic fencing, and trust me, it would be WAY more entertaining in the dark. Maybe they could use light sabers. I’m just spitballing here.

And Disney World is only one of the possibilities. Just up the road is a facility that would be perfect for the Olympic swimming competition — and this would be, without question, the most exciting swimming competition ever held. I’m talking about Gatorland. There would be a very powerful incentive to swim fast there. You definitely would not want to come in last.

I could go on, but you get my point: Florida can do it! We can host the 2021 Olympics! Chief financial officer Jimmy has already done the hard part, writing the letter. All we need now is a detailed plan and thousands of workers and $25 billion. So I say to you, my fellow Floridians: Let’s not waste another minute! Let’s get started! It’s time for us to swing into action, as only we can.

I’ll see you at Publix.