As Tokyo Olympics will have an opening without a general audience and with fewer stars in this edition, but some political leaders are still making their way to the Japan.
The First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, will be one of the most anticipated presences, as will the French President Emmanuel Macron.
The presence of the French leader is mainly due to the fact that Paris will host the 2024 Olympics. Macron’s trip to Tokyo, despite the uncertainties of this year’s edition, is seen by the International Olympic Committee as an important support for the Games.
Jill Biden, who is traveling without her husband, arrived in Japan this Thursday, for a hectic five-day schedule.
It is Jill Biden’s first international trip as first lady since the US president took office in January. Your ticket will include not only sport, with (virtual) conferences scheduled with American athletes, but an extensive diplomatic agenda.
This Thursday, Jill Biden meets Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his wife Mariko Suga at the official residence. On Friday, the American First Lady will also be received at the imperial palace in Tokyo by Emperor Naruhito.
Like Macron, Jill Biden will also be among the VIP guests who will attend the opening ceremony on Friday. The American press had been questioning whether Biden would continue the trip despite concerns about the advance of the Delta variant.
“The president and the first lady felt it was important to give the delegation top leadership. So they are excited to continue the trip,” US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday when asked about the issue. .
Despite the official speech that Jill Biden’s trip is important to lead the American delegation, her presence is an important nod to Sino-US relations at a time of questioning of the Japanese games and organization due to the pandemic and lack of public.
In addition to trade worth more than 250 billion dollars, the US has in Japan an important ally against China in Asia. Japan, which has no structured Armed Forces as a condition since its defeat in World War II (1939-45), still has its main military ally in the US.
Suga and President Joe Biden met last month at the meeting of the G7, a group of the seven richest democracies in the world, which took place in England and had China as the main target of the discussions.
The opening, like most other games, will not have a general audience, not even among those already residing in Japan.
Including Jill Biden and Macron, around 15 world leaders and international organizations are expected at the opening ceremony, compared to more than 40 at the opening of the last edition in Rio in 2016. The number of athletes parading is also expected to drop to the home of the 10,000, according to Japanese authorities and the International Olympic Committee.
In all, about 70 officials, including ministers, are expected to appear in Japan for the diplomatic and Olympic agenda, according to the Japanese government’s chief of staff, Katsunobu Kato.
Kato said the visit of world leaders, although fewer in number, will provide Prime Minister Suga with “a valuable opportunity to build personal relationships” with other leaders, at a time when bilateral meetings have mostly been reduced to virtual conferences.
Suga took office last September following health problems for popular conservative-nationalist prime minister Shinzo Abe (2012-2020). Suga was chosen from within the same Liberal Democratic Party, which controls Parliament in Japan.
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