Jill Biden Will Represent The United States At The Tokyo Olympics, Take Diplomatic Meetings


First Lady Jill Biden — not President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris — will reportedly travel to Tokyo, Japan, for the 2020 Summer Olympics, will represent the United States at the Games’ opening ceremonies, and will take scheduled diplomatic meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister.

The Japan News reported Monday that Jill Biden is expected to lead the American delegation to Tokyo and is already scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, despite not being an official employee of the United States government or a member of the American diplomatic corps.

“U.S. President Joe Biden himself will not be attending the ceremony, but the dispatching of his wife in his place sends a message of the importance of the relationship with Japan,” the outlet reported. “Jill Biden made her diplomatic ‘debut; earlier this month when she accompanied her husband at the Group of Seven summit in England. The Bidens met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife and other leaders.”

The difference, of course, between the Olympics and the G7 is that Jill Biden attended the G7 as the partner of a world leader, rather than as an active participant, and partners at the G7 are expected to meet together in informal settings. She may have visited with the Queen and members of the Royal Family and interacted with other wives and husbands of foreign leaders, but she was not present at the G7 as a chief diplomat.

The natural choice for the Olympics would be Vice President Kamala Harris and, barring that, Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In 2012, then-First Lady Michelle Obama attended the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom, but it does not appear that she held official meetings as a chief diplomat.

“The U.S. government sent then Vice President Mike Pence to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and then-Secretary of State John Kerry to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. When it comes to the first lady, Michelle Obama, the wife of former President Barack Obama, attended the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012,” the Japan Times noted.

The change could be seen as a public indication of how Kamala Harris is viewed by her own administration.

ill Biden and Kamala Harris are not, according to reports, the best of friends, but Harris should still receive precedence over a non-member of the Biden administration when it comes to global diplomatic events. Harris, however, is fresh off her first international trip, touring the Northern Triangle countries and speaking to heads of state in Guatemala and Mexico about the “root causes” of migration — a trip that was widely considered to be a failure.

Kamala was, at one time, tasked with heading up diplomatic relations with Japan, welcoming the Prime Minister to the White House in one of the first state visits in the Biden administration, according to the New York Times. This time, she will be sidelined.

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