JOINT BASE ALMENDORF-RICHARDSSON, Alaska — Jill Biden began her first solo international trip on Wednesday as the first woman to lead a US delegation to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where the coronavirus is on the rise and the COVID-19 pandemic continues. -19 infection has climbed for six months. high.
She stopped in Alaska on her way to Japan and is expected to stop in Hawaii before returning to Washington.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that both President Joe Biden and the First Lady felt it was important that the delegation be led “at the highest level” and that Jill Biden made the long journey to support American athletes. Looking forward to those who will compete in some tough conditions for the Olympic Games.
He has a strong agenda for nearly 48 hours on the ground in the Japanese capital.
The first lady is due to arrive at Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon and will have dinner with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife Mariko Suga at Akasa Palace.
He is to return to the palace on Friday and will be hosted by Mariko Suga. Biden will do virtual get-togethers with Team USA members before meeting with Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace. She attends the opening ceremony of the Games in the evening and is expected to lead a thinly-veiled delegation of two people, including Raymond Greene, who, in the absence of an ambassador, attends affairs at the US Embassy in Tokyo. are taking care of.
On Saturday, the first lady will dedicate a room at the residence of the US Chief of Mission to former US Sen. Daniel Inoue, D-Hawaii, and his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye. The senator died in 2012, and his wife died the previous year.
Jill Biden will also host a US vs Mexico softball watch party at the US Embassy for employees and their families, and will cheer on US athletes competing in several events before leaving Tokyo.
The journey began on Wednesday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, where the first lady arrived at around 1 p.m. local time. She was visiting military and veteran families who live free of charge at the Alaska Fisher House when a loved one is hospitalized. She was also set to visit the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage to encourage people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The first lady will visit the Honolulu vaccination clinic before returning to Washington.
Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections hit a six-month high on Wednesday, with 1,832 new cases being reported just two days before the start of the Games.
The Olympic host city is now in a fourth state of emergency, lasting until 22 August, for the duration of the Olympic Games beginning on Friday and ending on 8 August. Fans have been banned from all locations in the Tokyo area, some outdoor sites with limited audiences.
Suga’s government has been criticized by some for prioritizing the Olympic Games over public health, and there has been little fanfare for the Games, which were postponed since last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Imperial Palace said last month that Naruhito was “extremely concerned” that the Games could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.
Jill Biden has been fully vaccinated. The White House press secretary, Psaki, said the US delegation would follow “very strict” health and safety protocols during the visit, including limiting their engagement with the public and keeping their footprint as small as possible.
President Joe Biden is not attending the Games.