Florida’s chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis has written to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to offer the state as a potential replacement host for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, amid the coronavirus crisis.
Patronis said he was "pitching" Florida after seeing media reports that Japan had "privately concluded" it was unable to host the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This followed a report in The Times last week, which was swiftly denied by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the IOC, International Paralympic Committee and Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Patronis claimed "there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida" and that he could help the IOC "make the right contacts to get this done".
Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games at short notice is considered virtually impossible.
Tokyo 2020 has prepared to host the multi-sport events since being awarded the Games back in 2013.
The IOC has denied receiving Patronis’ letter, with the organisation reiterating that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will open on July 23.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) also expressed its commitment to Tokyo 2020.
"We were not made aware of the letter to President Bach in advance," a USOPC statement read.
"We invite American cities to indicate to us their interest in hosting a future Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are happy to work with them through the education and fact-finding process.
"We stand in support of the Tokyo Organising Committee and Japanese government who have given more than seven years of focus and dedication to welcoming the athletes of the world, and honour their efforts to host a safe and successful Games this summer."
With Japan rethinking the @Olympics now is a great time for @IOA_Official to deploy a site selection team to Florida. (Especially as we’re about to host the Super Bowl LV.)— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) January 25, 2021
➡️ Read my full letter to the International Olympic Committee: https://t.co/8OkzDc3d7H
Patronis’ offer draws comparisons to a similar suggestion made by London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey last year.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike criticised an "inappropriate" offer from Bailey last February, after he claimed London could "step up" as host.
Patronis had claimed Florida could host the Games due to staging the Ultimate Fighting Championship and National Basketball Association bubble matches in Orlando during the pandemic.
He had also highlighted Florida’s vaccine rollout.
Florida has seen more than 25,000 deaths during the pandemic, while Japan’s overall death toll reached 5,000 this month.