Denzel Washington Contracts COVID, Misses Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

The Academy Award winner was slated to be honored by President Biden

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Denzel Washington was absent from the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony on Thursday due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Washington’s representative confirmed to TheWrap.

Washington, who was slated to be honored at Thursday’s ceremony along with 16 other people, including gymnast Simone Biles and soccer star Megan Rapinoe, will receive the award at a later date.

“There’s a man who couldn’t be here today but wanted to be: Denzel Washington, one of our greatest actors in American history. Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Tony Awards, (and) wide acclaim from audiences and peers around the world,” President Biden said. “He couldn’t be here with us today, but I’ll be giving him this award at a later date when he’s able to get here.”

The Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor, was also granted Thursday to former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, civil rights advocate Raúl Yzaguirre and was posthumously given to Steve Jobs and John McCain.

According to a White House press release, Biden plans to honor Washington for his achievement as an actor, director and producer in addition to his service as spokesman to The Boys and Girls Club of America for over 25 years.

“These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” Biden said in the press release. “They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”