First lady Jill Biden will head to Tokyo later this month as the head of the U.S. delegation to the Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
President Joe Biden will not attend the games, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced late last month.
“We will have a delegation from the United States as we have historically had,” Psaki said, “but we will continue to also convey the public health guidelines and guidance that we’ve been delivering out there about only essential travel.”
Last week, Tokyo entered its fourth Covid-19 state of emergency, imposing limitations that will last through the entire Olympics before expiring on Aug. 22. The new Covid sanctions include shutting down businesses that serve alcohol and barring in-person spectators for most of the games.
The country has lagged in its vaccination efforts — roughly one-fifth of Japan’s population has been fully inoculated, according to estimates from CNN and Bloomberg’s global trackers. After an stepped-up campaign to get more Japanese vaccinated, many municipalities are now limiting vaccination appointments in order to maintain steady vaccine supply.
Biden is not the first president to miss the opening ceremonies. Then-Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence led the U.S. delegation during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. In 2016, former secretary of State John Kerry headed to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
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