First lady Jill Biden will lead the United States delegation to the opening ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, TODAY can exclusively report.
Earlier this month, the Tokyo Olympics banned spectators after Japan declared a state of emergency for its capital due to a resurgence of the coronavirus. President Joe Biden will not attend the Olympics but "will be rooting for the athletes," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in late June. At the time, the first lady's press secretary, Michael LaRosa, said the White House was assessing the "feasibility" for her to attend, CNN reported.
President Biden also said before a Marine One departure last week that the "plan" was for his wife to attend the opening ceremony on July 23.
"We're trying to work that out now," he stated.
It's not uncommon for presidents to skip attending Olympic Games held abroad. For example, President George W. Bush traveled to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, but President Barack Obama did not attend the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
As vice president and second lady, the Bidens led the U.S. delegation to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and got to meet the Olympic team before the opening ceremony. Joe Biden was also able to introduce his granddaughter Maisy to one athlete in particular, snowboarder Shaun White.
The Olympic delegation that year also included 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey captain Mike Eruzione, 1968 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming and 2002 bobsled champion Vonetta Flowers, according to NBC Sports.