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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticizes California over return of sports

© Alicia Devine/Tallah | 2020 May 15

California is erring on the side of caution when it comes to allowing professional sporting events to return to the state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The state of Florida is taking a different approach.

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made comments criticizing California’s policy for being too strict, while inviting professional sports teams and leagues to come to Florida to hold their events. This comes in the wake of last weekend’s UFC event, which was originally scheduled to take place in Central California.

“I’ve also said to other teams and other leagues that if you have states that simply are not going to budge and allow even competition with no fans … it’s important to get sports back up and running,” DeSantis said. “The mayor [of Jacksonville] and I worked together on bringing UFC to Jacksonville, and what was happening was UFC was running into issues in California, some of these other places, they wouldn’t let them do it.”

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘OK, they want to fight in an empty arena, they test the guys before they go, that’s as low risk as you get,'” DeSantis said Friday. “We reached out to UFC and said, ‘Guys, come,’ and I think it’s been very successful, and now what happens is UFC knows they have a welcome environment here in the state of Florida.”

More fights are scheduled in the state through the month of May. Previous comments by California state officials have indicated it is unlikely that professional sporting events are held in the state in 2020.

“Any of these teams in other states where they’re just not going to let them play, we have additional facilities here,” he said. “I’ve already spoken to some of the universities and it would be fine if people want to use facilities here. We welcome it and think it’s very important to get that going.”


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