Obama cancels star-studded 60th birthday party over Covid criticism

Former president will ‘significantly scale back event’

Louise Hall
Wednesday 04 August 2021 13:42
Jen Psaki defends former President Barack Obama's 'superspreader' birthday party
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Former President Barack Obama has cancelled his 60th birthday celebrations due to the rise in cases of the Delta coronavirus variant, The New York Times has reported.

Mr Obama had reportedly been set to throw a “big” bash to celebrate the occasion, with 475 guests. Friends, family, former aides and several celebrities were slated to have been invited.

However, over the last week, the former president has received criticism for pushing ahead with the party amid a worrying rise in cases of the Delta variant across the US.

The Times reported that despite the backlash the party was still set to go ahead as planned but now the plans have been “significantly scaled back”.

“Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the president and Ms Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” a spokesperson told the newspaper.

They added: “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”

The celebration was reported to be taking place at a 7,000-foot mansion Mr Obama bought for approximately $11.75 million on an island in Massachusetts.

The New York Post reported that the star-studded invite list included the likes of George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

“They’ve been concerned about the virus from the beginning, asking invited guests if they had been vaccinated, requesting that they get a test proximate to the event,” David Axelrod, a former top advisor told the newspaper.

He continued: “But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances.”

The event was purportedly set to take place outdoors and all guests were said to be required to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health protocols.

Despite the emphasis on vaccination and health protocols, WCVB reported that 1,364 new Covid-19 “breakthrough cases” in fully vaccinated individuals had been reported in Massachusetts last week.

The former president will turn 60 on 4 August.

The decision to cancel the large gathering comes only a day after President Joe Biden conceded the Delta variant was “causing a new wave of cases”.

“This is a very different variant than what we’ve dealt with previously,” he said in public remarks on Tuesday.

The more transmissible variant now accounts for over 80 per cent of all Covid-19 cases in the country. Mr Biden emphasised that the vaccine was the best tool in the fight against the virus.

“I want to be crystal clear about what’s happening in the country today: We have a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said.

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