First lady Jill Biden to attend Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony amid coronavirus concerns


In this July 8, 2021 photo, first lady Jill Biden delivers remarks before the start of the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Jill Biden will attend the opening ceremony of the summer Olympic games in Tokyo. The White House announced the trip Tuesday, even as the city has entered a new state of emergency over a rise in coronavirus cases.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Tokyo for the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics in Tokyo, the White House said Tuesday, even as the city has entered a new state of emergency over a rise in coronavirus cases.

Biden will attend the opening ceremony on July 23 without President Joe Biden. It will be her first solo trip abroad as first lady.

Amid flare-ups of the coronavirus pandemic, officials have banned spectators from attending almost all Olympics events. Tokyo has declared a state of emergency lasting until Aug. 22, well after the games close on Aug. 8.

Recent coronavirus rises in Tokyo have been particularly worrisome amid a vaccination rollout that got off to a slow start and has faced supply glitches after speeding up. Only about 28% of the population has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters previously that a team had been sent to Tokyo to assess the feasibility of Jill Biden’s visit. Last week, she said that despite the increase in coronavirus cases, the president still supports U.S. athletes traveling there for the competition.

The last time Jill Biden attended the games was in 2010, when she and her husband led the U.S. delegation to the Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

Previous first ladies also have represented the U.S. at the Olympic Games.

Hillary Clinton traveled to the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games and the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Laura Bush led the delegation to Turin Olympics in 2006. She also accompanied President George W. Bush to Beijing for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.

Michelle Obama led a delegation to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The Olympics, already delayed a year because of COVID-19, are due to run from July 23 to Aug. 8. Olympic village, the accommodation center built for athletes, officially opened Tuesday.

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