Former US 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, The Hill reported on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Carter Center confirmed the decision 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 decision by the Carters to skip the inauguration on January 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., according to The Hill.
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.
Carter has been hospitalized several times in recent years. In December of 2019, he was admitted to a hospital in Georgia for treatment of a urinary tract infection.
Carter has made some controversial statements with regards to Israel in the past.
In 2015, he said there is “zero chance” for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, while blaming Israel for the deadlock in the peace process.
That year Carter also said he would not meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had refused to meet him in any case, saying doing so would be a "waste of time."
Last year, he dismissed President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, claiming it would violate international law and claiming, "If implemented, the plan will doom the only viable solution to this long-running conflict, the two-state solution."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that former President George W. Bush, the only living former Republican president, will attend Biden’s inauguration.
Bush, who left office in 2009, will be accompanied by his wife, Laura, according to his chief of staff, Freddy Ford.