Joe Biden Will Not Travel to Tokyo for Next Month's Summer Olympics — but Jill Biden Might
"The president is not planning to attend the games. He will certainly be rooting for the athletes," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday
"The president is not planning to attend the games. He will certainly be rooting for the athletes," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
Psaki added that "we will have a delegation from the United States as we have historically had, but we will continue to also convey the [pandemic] public health guidelines and guidance that we've been delivering out there about only essential travel."
Politico reported the first lady, 70, could lead the delegation for the competition in Tokyo, although the White House hasn't made an official announcement yet.
President Biden, 78, told reporters on Tuesday he was, in fact, gearing up for his wife to lead the group.
"We're trying to work that out now," he said. "That's the plan."
The president's absence from the upcoming games — though not unusual compared to past Olympics — will come as both global and Japanese officials have voiced concern over their safety amid the still-ongoing international spread of COVID-19.
Only about 12 percent of Japan's population has been vaccinated, according to a World Health Organization tracker.
While the competition and participating athletes and press are subject to intense restrictions, Japan has announced it will allow 10,000 domestic spectators.
The last president to embark on a foreign trip for the Olympics was former President George W. Bush in 2008, who attended the games in Beijing during his final months in office.
In the a president's place, the White House typically sends a delegation led by high-ranking administration members, such as the first lady or the secretary of state, who often travel along with former U.S. athletes.
There's precedent for first ladies to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation, as well.
In 2012, former First Lady Michelle Obama led the group for the London Games. And in 2018 at the South Korea Games, former Second Lady Karen Pence led the delegation alongside her husband, former Vice President Mike Pence.
The Olympics begin on July 23.