President Joe Biden joked Friday night that the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ‘made it real clear’ that he wanted first lady Jill Biden – and not the US president – in Tokyo for the Olympics’ opening ceremony.
‘Jill wanted to be here tonight, but if you turn on the Olympics and watch Team USA you’ll see Jill Biden standing there,’ Biden said at a campaign rally for Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe. ‘The Japanese prime minister, who I invited as the first person to come to the White House as a head of state, he made it real clear, he didn’t want me, he wanted her to go.’
The Biden administration lit up the White House Friday night as well, as the opening ceremony, which had been attended by the first lady 12 hours before, played on primetime TV in the United States.
The White House was lit up Friday night to mark the Tokyo summer Olympics opening ceremony, which first lady Jill Biden attended in person
President Joe Biden joked that the Japense prime minister ‘made it real clear’ he wanted the first lady representing the US at the Olympics and not the president
First lady Jill Biden stands up and waves as Team USA is announced Friday night at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games
Jill Biden arrived Olympics Stadium dressed in a white and black polka-dotted bespoke Brandon Maxwell dress paired with a strings of pearls.
She also sported an American flag mask, as COVID-19 protocols left the massive stadium empty except for dignitaries and press.
She also wore Paul Andrew pumps, Mizuki earrings and held a Larroude clutch as she arrived.
The first lady was seated next to French President Emmanuel Macron, who she attended a reception with earlier hosted by Japanese Emperor Naruhito.
She was observed bowing her head during a moment of silence near the top of the program for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jill Biden will attend three events in-person at the Olympics Saturday: Team USA versus France’s women’s basketball game, Team USA swimming races and the Team USA women’s soccer match against New Zealand. She’ll also host a Team USA versus Mexico softball watch party at the ambassador’s residence for embassy staff.
Earlier, thanks to COVID-19, the first lady had to meet Team USA athletes virtually.
‘I want to thank each person who helped you be here today. Now those years of work, the drive and faith that have kept you going, have led you here. Congratulations,’ Biden said, sporting a white, blue and red USA jacket over a white Michael Kors dress and looking into a camera. ‘Becoming an Olympian is a rare accomplishment in a normal time. But you did it during a global pandemic.’
First lady Jill Biden (left) speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron (right) at the opening ceremony Friday night for the Tokyo summer Olympic Games
First lady Jill Biden stood up and cheered as Team USA was announced arriving at Olympic Stadium during Friday night’s opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympic Games
First lady Jill Biden is captured arriving at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan Friday night for the opening ceremony
First lady Jill Biden (left) speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron (right) at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo summer Olympic Games. Earlier Friday, Biden and Macron attended a reception at the Imperial Palace with the Emperor of Japan
First lady Jill Biden gets off an elevator as she arrives for the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo
Fireworks explode over the main Olympic stadium in Tokyo as the opening ceremony gets underway, a year after the event was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
First lady Jill Biden applauds during Friday night’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo summer Olympics at Olympic Stadium
First lady Jill Biden is seen observing a moment of silence for victims of the coronavirus pandemic during Friday night’s opening ceremony in Tokyo
First lady Jill Biden (center top) watches the Olympics’ opening ceremony alongside French President Emmanuel Macron (bottom)
A view outside the Olympic Stadium Friday night in Tokyo, Japan. Inside only hundreds and not tens of thousands were gathered due to rising COVID-19 numbers globally
Team USA enters Olympic Stadium Friday night during the opening ceremony in Tokyo. Flagbearers Sue Bird and Eddy Alvares spoke virtually earlier Friday with first lady Jill Biden
Behind her shoulder was a large TV showing the faces of Team USA’s athletes.
‘For most of you, the journey to Tokyo began long, long ago. It likely started at a young age. The first time you picked up a ball or jumped in the water. The first ride that made you feel really free. Or when the backflip you thought was impossible suddenly wasn’t,’ Biden said.
‘You’ve given up so much to be here. You’ve sacrificed time with friends and pushed yourself harder than you thought you could,’ she continued.
‘Your journey was supported by dedicated parents and siblings, grandparents and cousins, friends, classmates and, of course, the coaches that guided you along the way to Tokyo,’ Biden added.
The first athlete she spoke to was Eddy Alvarez, a baseball player and, in the winter Olympics, a short track speed skater.
First lady Jill Biden did a Zoom call with Team USA athletes Friday at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in advance of the Tokyo summer Olympics’ opening ceremony
He’s a flagbearer this year.
‘Thank you so much, I love seeing you – you must be so excited!’ she said giggling.
She then spoke to Sue Bird, a basketball player and flagbearer.
‘You are one amazing woman,’ Biden said.
She then spoke to Allison Schmitt, a four-time Olympic swimmer and mental health advocate. ‘I think it’s an even bigger honor that you’re not just FLOTUS, but you’re a Dr. Jill Biden,’ Schmitt said.
‘I’m so looking forward to watching you compete and as a teacher I think what you’re doing is so important in that area of mental health because I know that a lot of students as they return back to school this fall are going to need a little help,’ Biden said.
Schmitt said she’s currently working on her master’s.
‘Go for the doctorate,’ Biden encouraged.
Biden also told the athletes they were ‘more than our cities or states or backgrounds.’
‘We are more than our jobs or are political parties,’ she said.
‘We are Team USA,’ she said. ‘We’ll be watching!’ she encouraged the athletes.
Afterward she told reporters, ‘it was emotional’ after seeing the Olympians. ‘It meant a lot to me. And to Joe. It should be exciting to watch the events,’ she said.
‘Thank you for your help,’ she told her staff and embassy staff who put the Zoom call together.
‘Am I allowed to shake hands?’ she asked the staff, giving out elbow bumps instead. ‘Just pretend these are hugs,’ she said.
Biden later released an op-ed through NBC News that delivered a similar message.
Earlier Friday, the first lady returned to the Akasaka Palace to spend time with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s wife Mariko.
Mariko Suga had prepared an incense workshop for Dr. Biden, where the first lady would smell difference fragrances and put together a small scented satchel.
With COVID on the rise in Tokyo, both women wore masks – but appeared sans shoes, as is culturally appropriate. They sat down at two desks with plexiglass shield attached to protect the lecturer, who spoke in Japanese and wore a light yellow kimono.
First lady Jill Biden arrives at an incense workshop Friday morning in Tokyo with the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife Mariko Suga
Mariko Suga (left) and Dr. Jill Biden and her interpreter (right) take part in an incense workshop Friday morning at Akasaka Palace
Biden was guided through the fragrances – sandalwood, then cinnamon – briefly taking off her mask to take a big whiff.
‘Oh that’s strong, that wakes you up, right?’ Biden said when smelling Palo Santo, a South American scent named for ‘tree of God,’ after the resin-rich heartwood used in incense in churches, which was described as slightly sweet.
Biden wore a grey trench-length blazer adorned with a pearl pin, that was a gift from Mrs. Suga when her husband visited the White House solo in April.
Doing more diplomatic work Friday afternoon, Biden arrived at the Imperial Palace for a meet-and-greet with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.
The emperor had invited 11 delegation heads to the expansive palace, including Macron and Albert II, the Prince of Monaco.
Biden arrived last and in the largest motorcade.
Reporters were only able to capture her entering the event.
She had changed into a white dress with black polka dots – the same dress she sported later at the opening ceremony.
First lady Jill Biden arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo Friday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito
First lady Jill Biden is gestured toward the doors of the Imperial Palace as she arrives for a reception with delegation leaders
First lady Jill Biden waves to reporters as she arrives Friday afternoon at the Imperial Palace for a reception hosted by Japan’s Emperor Naruhito
First lady Jill Biden (left) meets Japan’s Emperor Naruhito (right) at the Imperial Palace ahead of the official opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito delivers a speech to the guests including French President Emmanuel Macron and first lady Jill Biden at the Imperial Palace
First lady Jill Biden meets with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the Imperial Palace
The first lady arrived in Japan Thursday afternooon ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony for the 2021 summer Olympic Games, which have already been plagued by a spike in COVID cases.
She wore see-through nylon slippers for dinner at Akasaka Palace with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife, Mariko Suga.
The trio posed for a photo-op with reporters, with Biden wearing a $2,832 silk floral Tom Ford dress with a modest mid-length hem, a feminine pussy-bow collar, and a waist-cinching belt for the occasion.
Like the Prime Minister and his wife, Biden took off her shoes inside, as is custom, and was seen wearing only a pair of skin-tone nylon no-show socks. She also covered up with a simple black face mask.
The Japanese people and their guests have a tradition of taking off shoes for home meals to show respect and promote cleanliness. They also sit on tatami mats instead of chairs while eating.
The trip to Tokyo marks the first lady’s first solo trip abroad since her husband came into office in January.
Biden arrived amid continued concerns about holding the Games over the surge in COVID, with Tokyo virus cases hitting a six-month high on Wednesday.
The first lady embraced COVID precautions upon meeting Prime Minister Suga, but also as she arrived at Yokota Air Force Base earlier today.
Disembarking the plane, she waved at reporters in a custom red Narciso Rodriguez dress that she had previously worn on a visit to Central Florida in June, as well as a white floral mask that she had first worn on inauguration night.
She was tested – along with staff, press and Secret Service – for COVID-19 on board Executive One Foxtrot between Anchorage, her first stop, and Japan.
She and only one other American, U.S. Embassy Tokyo official Raymond Greene, are the only two members of the official presidential delegation for the Games.
First lady Jill Biden (left), sporting slippers, posed for photographs alongside Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (center), who’s in socks, and his wife Mariko Suga (right) who’s barefoot, as is custom. Biden is dining Thursday night with the Sugas at Akasaka Palace ahead of the Olympic Games
With COVID cases rising, the first lady appeared wearing a mask despite being vaccinated against the virus
First lady Jill Biden waves to reporters as she arrives in Tokyo, Japan ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony
First lady Jill Biden is captured getting off of Executive One Foxtrot Thursday afternoon
First lady Jill Biden speaks at the Alaska Native Health Center on Wednesday in Anchorage, Alaska, a stopover she made en route to Tokyo, Japan for the Olympic Games
JILL BIDEN’S FIRST SOLO FOREIGN TRIP
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The first lady will dedicate a room in the Chief of Mission Residence to Irene Hirano Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Inouye.
She will then host a U.S. vs. Mexico Softball watch party with foreign service officers and their families at the U.S. Embassy.
After, the first lady will cheer on Team USA basketball against France, Team USA swimming and Team USA women’s soccer against New Zealand before departing Japan.
Sunday, July 25, 2021
In Honolulu, FLOTUS will visit a vaccination clinic at Waipahu High School and join military families for a barbeque at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
At her stop in Anchorage, Alaska on July 21, Biden appeared at the Alaska Native Health Tribal Health Consortium and addressed in yet another outfit – this time a below-the-knee black and white number, with stripes around teh skirt and a dainty bow at her waist.
She coordinated the look with simple black pumps, and alternated between both a black and a white jacket. For jewelry, she picked pearl earrings and a matching pearl brooch, which she swapped for other pieces from her jewelry box when she later arrived in Japan.
Biden said she was excited to get to Japan, telling reporters as she departed the Alaska stop: ‘Yes aren’t you? I’ll see you there.’
On Saturday, Biden will spend time at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.
She plans to dedicate a room at the Chief of Mission Residence to Irene Hirano Inouye and Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Irene Hirano Inouye died in 2020. She founded the U.S.-Japan Council and was the group’s first president. She also served as the first executive director of the The Japanese American National Museum in her native Los Angeles.
She was married to Daniel Inouye, who passed away in 2012 and served as a senator to Hawaii for nearly 50 years.
After the dedication, the first lady will watch the U.S. versus Mexico softball game with foreign service members and their families.
Biden will then head to Olympics venues to watch several events before leaving Japan.
The first lady will be among a handful of people cheering athletes on as organizers announced earlier this month that spectators would be banned from Olympics’ venues as COVID-19 cases spiked in Japan.
Biden traveled with President Joe Biden last month to the first portion of his first global outing since being sworn-in in January.
The first lady accompanied the president to the G7 in Cornwall, England, where she spent time with Carrie Johnson, the wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and their son Wilfred in Carbis Bay.
Highlights also included a school tour with Kate Middleton and a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle with her husband.
First lady Jill Biden greets people on the tarmac of Joint Base
She departed for Japan Wednesday morning and made a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska to talk about the coronavirus vaccine
On a previous trip in June, Biden met with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle (left) and went on a school tour with Kate Middleton (right)
Jill Biden stops off in Alaska to tout getting vaccines to tribal communities
First lady Jill Biden made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday en route to the Tokyo summer Olympics.
Biden took a tour of the Alaska Native Medical Center, where she marveled at some of the ways Alaska medical providers distributed COVID-19 vaccines, especially to tribal communities.
Dr. Cate Buley, the Medical Director of Primary Care Clinics at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium told the first lady, ‘we delivered some vaccines in some whale-watching boats,’ adding that it was ‘nothing I ever expected.’
‘Or you want to do again,’ Biden said laughing.
Valerie Davidson, the President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, greeted the first lady by pointing out a garbage can outside where they had recently spotted a bear.
‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said.
Biden was given a tele-health demonstration at the site.
A map showed some of the distances communities are spread – with some as far as the distance from California to Georgia.
First lady Jill Biden made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday en route to the Tokyo summer Olympics
The first lady was greeted on the tarmac and shown a garbage can where they recently spotted a bear. ‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said
Dr. Joseph Park, a cardiologist at the center, walked Biden through how people can see their EKG via computer. Dr. Cate Buley, beaming in from Juneau, said, ‘the silver lining to the pandemic has been the explosion of this tele-medicine service.’ She talked about how tele-medicine has led to cancer discoveries and healthy baby births.
Biden asked Buley how much mental health services she provides.
Buley responds that ‘it’s increased a drastic amount.’
Biden asked Buley, ‘are most of your patients receptive to getting the vaccine?’
‘Yes we have extremely high vaccination rates,’ Buley answered.
Afterward the first lady gave brief remarks.
Davidson used a native Alaskan tribal language to greet the first lady and then switched to language. She also noted that ‘some of our communities we have 100 per cent vaccination.’
Dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, also gave welcome remarks.
Dr. Biden took off her mask to speak.
First lady Jill Biden is shown dolls wearing Alaskan native costume as she enters the Alaska Native Health Center Wednesday, receiving a trou from (from left) Dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, and Valerie Davidson, the President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Biden noted how Zink works out of a yurt.
Biden took the podium and tried several times to repeat the name of the Alaskan tribe that originally held the land – Dena’ina.
‘See I’m getting it,’ Biden said after a few attempts.
‘So as you know I’m heading for the Tokyo Olympics,’ she told the small group of reporters in the room. ‘I asked if I could just stay a little bit longer,’ she said of the stopover in Alaska.
‘This state really is special to Joe and to me,’ she added.
She talked about traveling the state with the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who served with President Biden in the U.S. Senate.
‘We traveled all over this state by plane – well, mostly by plane,’ Biden remarked.
She also talked about how she and Catherine Stevens were pregnant at the same time, when Biden was pregnant with daughter Ashley. ‘And it was really a big deal in the Senate because here there hadn’t been in a baby in the Senate for a long time,’ Biden said. ‘So most of them were, I guess, old men,’ she said to laughter.
She heralded the center ‘which has helped lead this state in vaccinating not only natives but non-natives as well.’
Biden talked about how she met a woman at her exercise class in Washington. ‘Jill she said I want to thank you for what you’re doing.’ ‘She said I lost four members of my family to the virus and she started to cry. And she said, you know what I did. I said what did you do Jackie And she said I went and I got 140 people to get the vaccine.’
‘I just felt so terrible for her,’ Biden continued. ‘This this is our path forward, reaching out to those who are still undecided, persuading them to protect themselves and others. And we need to make this care, person by person,’ she said, calling this the ‘last push.’
‘I’m asking all of you who are listening right now to choose to get vaccinated,’ Biden said. ‘COVID is more contagious than ever and it continues to spread. Even one hospitalization, only one life lost, is one too many.’