Former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter do not plan to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington D.C. later this month.
A spokeswoman for the Carter Center confirmed the decision to The Hill and said that the Carters “have sent their best wishes to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and look forward to a successful administration.” The news was first reported by Associated Press.
Biden served as a senator from Delaware when Carter was president. Jimmy Carter and his wife recorded a message for the virtual Democratic National Convention over the summer offering support for Biden to be the next commander in chief.
“Joe Biden was my first and most effective supporter in the Senate. For decades, he’s been my loyal and dedicated friend,” Jimmy Carter said in the message played at the convention in August. “Joe has the experience, character and decency to bring us together.”
The decision by the Carters to skip the inauguration on Jan. 20 comes amid the coronavirus pandemic. The committees planning the inauguration have already made plans to reduce the number of attendees, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee has urged Americans to watch the events from home and not travel to D.C.
This inauguration will be the first that the Carters will have missed since he was sworn in as the 39th president of the United States in 1977, the AP noted. Carter, who is 96, is the oldest living former president.
It is unclear whether other former presidents may adjust their plans as a result of the pandemic. President Donald J. Trump who refuses to accept Biden’s win, has also not said whether he plans to attend the inauguration, though his allies do not expect him to be there.