President Joe Biden shared a heartfelt message to the athletes of Team USA exclusively on TODAY.
The prerecorded message aired Friday morning as some of the country's most accomplished athletes returned home, medals in hand.
The president started the message by thanking those who had represented the country on an international stage.
"Team USA, thank you for all you mean to our country," Biden said. "When Jill came home from Tokyo, all she could talk about was you. Not just how incredible all of you athletes are in your endurance and years of dream and sacrifice, but she talked about your character, your courage. I know getting to the Olympics is a long journey, and the pandemic made it especially difficult and draining. It made the impossible even harder. But in you, a country saw itself. It saw what was possible."
Biden then highlighted the impact the athletes had on audiences and future competitors.
"I want you to know how much watching you compete means to all of us, to me particularly, especially all those little kids dreaming to be you one day," he said. "Beyond the medals and the results, you remind us that we are stronger than we ever thought we were."
"As sports often do, it raises issues that we should all care about, like our physical and mental wellness," Biden continued. "And you’re helping to share something in common, something fundamental to who we are: a pride in those three letters, USA."
"I also know the pride your families must feel. I know how hard it was for you and for them that they couldn’t be with you in person. Defining images of the Games are on Zoom and FaceTime, calls with families and communities crying and cheering with pure joy," Biden said. "To all the families and friends of Team USA, thank you, as well. Watching you watch your child or your loved one and learning about your family’s stories is always one of my favorite things about watching the Olympics."
"It’s a reminder of what an amazing country we are and how amazing you are," Biden continued. "And you’re made up of people of every background from every part of the country. We’re a people who dare to dream, who do hard things and do extraordinary things. To all of you, thank you for showing what we can do together, as one America, as one team."
The president ended the message with an invitation to the White House.
"God bless you all," Biden said. "I look forward to hosting all of you at the White House when you get home."