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Biden to recent US Olympians at White House: 'You represent the very soul of America'

The 2020 and 2022 U.S. Olympic Teams got a delayed celebration at the White House.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden hosted the 2020 and 2022 U.S. Olympic Teams at the White House on Wednesday, celebrating athletes from the most recent winter Games while staging a much delayed, in-person celebration for participants of last summer's Tokyo Olympics.

"You represent the very soul of America, and that's not hyperbole," Biden told the athletes. He praised them for inspiring young people and raising awareness for causes like mental health. 

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The president and first lady Jill Biden hosted Olympians from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, on the South Lawn. Vice President Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, also attended.

Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor of Georgia congratulated her fellow athletes for their resilience in a tumultuous few years. 

"We've been through a lot," she said. "A pandemic. A postponement. A war. But this team is resilient. We came together and persevered. And we hope we made this country proud."

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Jill Biden made her first solo overseas trip as first lady by traveling to Japan to attend the 2020 Olympics, which were delayed until last year because of the pandemic — though access remained restricted because of the coronavirus.

Last summer, the Bidens hosted a virtual celebration for Team USA from 2020's Tokyo Olympics from their home in Delaware. The president said then that he'd like to host the team at the White House in the future.

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The United States finished the 2022 Beijing Winter Games with 25 total medals. That's eight gold, ten silver and seven bronze. Team USA won 22 medals at the Beijing Paralympic games. 

Team USA won 113 medals at the Tokyo Games, which, for the fifth straight Summer Games, was double-digits more than the nearest competition. 104 medals were won at the 2020 Paralympics. 

Val Lick contributed to this report.

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