June 6, 2022

DeSantis Press Secretary Calls Out Newsom for Claiming DeSantis Was ‘Bullying’ Special Olympics

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By Lydia Nusbaum

June 6, 2022 Updated 9:35 A.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, clapped back at California Gov. Gavin Newsom for claiming DeSantis bullied Special Olympics International when the group forced a vaccine mandate on athletes in order to compete. 

Special Olympics International originally required all athletes to prove they received the COVID vaccine in order to compete in Orlando. 

However, the group dropped the vaccine mandate after immense pressure from the DeSantis administration. DeSantis threatened the group with a $27.5 million fine for violating state law by requiring the vaccine to compete.

“Ron DeSantis’ values on full display: Bullying. The. Special. Olympics,” Newsom said in a tweet.

Christina Pushaw called the organizers of the event “bullies” instead. 

“Wrong. The only “bullies” here are the organizers who tried to force athletes with complex medical needs to take shots, even ignoring medical exemptions,” Pushaw said. “Governor DeSantis stepped in to defend the athletes, and now we’re having an inclusive Special Olympics in Florida!”

Special Olympics Drops Vaccine Mandate After Pressure From DeSantis Admin: ‘Let Them Compete’

At the press conference Friday, athletes and their family members shared why they did not want to receive the vaccine in order 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 and integrity,” DeSantis said Friday.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said 70 athletes from the Florida delegation who were originally disqualified because of the vaccination status will now compete at the Special Olympics in Orlando.

The games will take place June 5th through June 12th.

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