Denzel Washington Misses Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony After Catching Covid

President Joe Biden anticipated honoring 17 individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at this year’s annual ceremony on July 7, but he was only able to present the award to 16.

“There’s a man who couldn’t be here today but wanted to be: Denzel Washington, one of our greatest actors in American history,” the president said in his opening speech.

According to ET, Washington was unable to attend because he’d contracted Covid. Biden assured those in attendance that he would be giving Washington his award “at a later date when he’s able to get here.”

Simone Biles was among those recipients who did attend. The Olympian, and “Dancing with the Stars” alum, was honored for her prowess in her chosen field of gymnastics, as well as her extensive advocacy for athletes, foster care children and victims of sexual assault.

Simone was one of those gymnasts who came forward in 2018 with bombshell sexual abuse allegations against team doctor Larry Nassar. He ultimately pled guilty to seven counts of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct and has been sentenced to 175 years in prison.

“It’s kind of scary because it is the best award you can receive for your whole life so now it’s kind of scary like, ‘Oh, what do I do now?’ But it’s a huge honor,” Biles told reporters, per E! News.

At just 25 years old, Biles can chalk up another record for the books as she became the youngest-ever recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Today, she adds to her medal count,” Biden said as he placed the new medal around her neck.

Other honorees included Sandra Lindsay, the New York nurse who became the first person to ever receive the Covid-19 vaccine; former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun-control advocate after she was shot; the late Senator John McCain; and the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

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