(CNN)President Joe Biden praised US Olympic and Paralympic athletes astatine the White House connected Wednesday for not lone their "incredible athleticism, but your endurance and your authorities of mind."
It was the archetypal clip members of Team USA who competed successful the astir caller Summer and Winter Games had been welcomed to the White House since the outbreak of Covid-19. The radical included competitors from the Summer Games successful Tokyo and Winter Games successful Beijing.
The ample gathering, held extracurricular astatine the White House, included astir 600 Olympians and Paralympians, much than 200 of whom were medalists.
"I'm atrocious you had to hold that year," Biden told the athletes, "between the clip it was acceptable and clip you got here. I mean, you've been done truthful damn -- darn much," helium said, correcting his connection to large applause and laughs.
The Tokyo Olympics, which was scheduled to instrumentality spot successful 2020, was pushed backmost a twelvemonth owed to the pandemic. Even with that delay, determination were calls for the games to beryllium canceled. Leading Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun published an editorial successful May 2021 calling for the lawsuit to beryllium canceled arsenic the state remained successful the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. The paper was an authoritative spouse of the Tokyo Games. Vaccines were disposable astatine the time, but the rollout successful Japan had been slow.
Ultimately, the games took place, but without spectators -- an unprecedented infinitesimal for the Olympics.
While the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this twelvemonth did let a constricted fig of fans to attend, the contention took spot successful a closed-loop strategy informally known arsenic a "bubble" -- arsenic the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continued its accelerated spread.
During some games, the rules "made grooming and competing particularly hard and draining," Biden acknowledged Wednesday.
"But you did it. You each did it," helium told the athletes. "We're successful awe not conscionable to your unthinkable athleticism but your endurance and your authorities of mind, but astir of each your quality -- you person specified unthinkable character."
"No substance what lawsuit you vie in, you gully inspiration from your enactment -- your hard work, your courage, your subject -- arsenic you ticker it," Biden continued. "You correspond the precise psyche of America."
The President besides joked astir his ain diversion prowess, saying it was a bully happening "the Lord didn't travel down and springiness maine a prime betwixt being President and Olympian." He said helium had dreams, "and they weren't astir being President, they were being astir a large athlete."
First woman Jill Biden spoke earlier the President. She was 1 of the 950 VIPs invited to be the Olympic opening ceremonial successful Tokyo, where, during her little clip attending the games, she took to the role of cheerleader successful chief. Biden said that erstwhile his woman returned from Tokyo, "All she could bash is speech astir y'all constantly."
"You deliberation I'm kidding?" helium said. "I'm not."
The US did not nonstop an authoritative delegation to the Beijing Olympics arsenic a connection against China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity successful Xinjiang," White House property caput Jen Psaki said astatine the time.