The White House

11:43 A.M. EDT

THE FIRST LADY:  Thank you so much.  And I — I would like to say thank you to the band, who has been playing since 8:30 this morning.  Can we say thank you?  (Applause.)

So, hello, Olympians and Paralympians.  Welcome to the White House!  (Applause.)

Doug and I were so grateful to see your Games in Japan.  And Tokyo was the first time I had the opportunity to see a three-on-three women’s basketball game, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  It was everything I love about sports.

Oh, you guys can sit down.  (Laughter.)

I’ll start again: It was everything I love about sports — the moment when the team shows to — seems to know each other’s thoughts; the air is electric with that connection; when the crowd is breathing with one breath, our hearts racing to the rhythm of each thump of the ball; every basket pure joy.

As I watched Stefanie, Allisha, Kelsey, and Jackie on — fly back and forth on that court, only one thing mattered to the crowd: We were all Team USA.  (Applause.)

That’s the power of what all of you do.  You don’t just play a game, run a race, hit a target, or win a competition. With every step, jump, roll, kick, and twirl, you show us the heights of our human potential.  You show us how to fail and then get back up.  You teach us that hard work and sacrifice and determination can push us beyond what we ever thought was in our reach.

When we cheer you on, we are more than our cities or our states or our backgrounds.  We are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  You help us believe in the impossible and leave our differences behind.

Now, I know that these games may not have been exactly as you once imagined — with stadiums packed with people and all of your loved ones screaming from the sidelines.

But you are all champions just the same.  (Applause.)  Becoming an Olympian or a Paralympian is a rare accomplishment in a normal time, but you did it during a global pandemic.  You are forever one of the most elite, most celebrated athletes in this world.

I hope that you are proud of everything you have accomplished, because we all are.  We are so proud of you.  (Applause.)

And we are grateful for the gifts you’ve given us: the hope, the joy, the unity — and, most of all, the chance to see you soar.

Thank you.  (Applause.)  

And now, an even greater fan of Team USA, my husband, our President, Joe Biden.  (Applause.)

                        END                11:47 A.M. EDT

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