Jill Biden to cease in Alaska on her approach to Tokyo Olympics

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden embarks Wednesday on her first solo worldwide journey as first girl, main an American delegation to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the place the coronavirus is surging and COVID-19 infections have climbed to a six-month excessive.

She will cease in Alaska on the best way to Japan, and in Hawaii earlier than she returns to Washington.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned Tuesday that President Joe Biden and the primary girl each felt it was necessary that the delegation be led “on the highest stage,” and that Jill Biden appeared ahead to the lengthy journey to assist assist U.S. athletes, who will probably be competing in among the starkest circumstances for an Olympic Video games.

She has a sturdy agenda for roughly 48 hours on the bottom in Japan’s capital.

The primary girl is about to reach at Yokota Air Drive Base in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon and have dinner with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his spouse, Mariko Suga, at Akasaka Palace.

She is to return to the palace Friday and be hosted by Mariko Suga. Biden will maintain a digital get-together with members of Staff USA earlier than assembly Emperor Naruhito on the Imperial Palace. She attends the opening ceremony for the video games within the night.

On Saturday, the primary girl will dedicate a room within the residence of the U.S. chief of mission to former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and his spouse, Irene Hirano Inouye. The senator died in 2012, and his spouse died final yr.

Jill Biden may even host a U.S. vs. Mexico softball watch celebration on the U.S. Embassy for workers and their households, and cheer U.S. athletes competing in a number of occasions earlier than leaving Tokyo.

The journey opens Wednesday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. The primary girl will go to Alaska Fisher Home, the place navy and veteran households keep without charge whereas a liked one is within the hospital. She may even go to the Alaska Native Medical Middle in Anchorage to encourage individuals to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The primary girl will tour a Honolulu vaccination clinic earlier than she returns to Washington.

Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections surged to a six-month excessive Wednesday with 1,832 new circumstances logged simply two days earlier than the video games open.

The Olympic host metropolis is now beneath its fourth state of emergency, which runs by way of Aug. 22, spanning the length of the Olympic Games that open Friday and finish Aug. 8. Followers are banned from all venues within the Tokyo space, with restricted audiences at a couple of outlying websites.

Suga’s authorities has been criticized for what some say is prioritizing Olympic sport over public well being, and there was little fanfare within the run-up to the Video games, which had been postponed from final yr due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Imperial Palace mentioned final month that Naruhito is “extraordinarily apprehensive” that the video games may speed up the unfold of the coronavirus.

Jill Biden is totally vaccinated. Psaki, the White House press secretary, mentioned the U.S. delegation will comply with “very strict” well being and security protocols through the journey, together with limiting their engagement with the general public and protecting as small a footprint as potential.

President Biden just isn’t attending the Video games.

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