Biden and Harris named Time's Person of the Year

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US President-elect Joe Biden (left) and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. File photoImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
US President-elect Joe Biden (left) and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris

US President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have been chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2020.

"The Biden-Harris ticket represents something historic," Time tweeted.

The Democratic pair beat three other finalists: frontline healthcare workers and Dr Anthony Fauci, the racial justice movement, and President Donald Trump, who lost the White House race.

Time has been choosing the year's most influential person since 1927.

"For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are TIME's 2020 Person of the Year," wrote Time's editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal.

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Mr Biden and Ms Harris, who was not mentioned on Time's initial shortlist, are yet to publicly comment on the announcement.

In 2016, Mr Trump, then also president-elect, received the same recognition from the magazine.

Media caption,
Who is Kamala Harris, vice-president?

Every year, Time chooses a person, a group, an idea or an object that "for better or for worse" has had the most impact on the events over the 12 months.

In 2019, the publication expanded Person of the Year to include such categories as a Businessperson of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Athlete of the Year and the Guardians of the Year.

So, this year's winners are:

Guardians of the Year:

  • Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of the Coronavirus Task Force, and frontline health workers. "On the front line against Covide-19, the world's health care workers displayed the best of humanity - selflessness, compassion, stamina, courage - while protecting as much of it as they could," Time wrote
  • Porche Bennett-Bey, Assa Traoré, and racial-justice organisers "When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in May, it was proof - if anyone needed it - that Black lives are still not treated as equal in America. In the aftermath of his death, a wave of outrage surged and was harnessed by organisers, both veteran and newly energized, to bring millions to the streets and spotlight the inequities in a world that claims to be far better than it is," Time said

Businessperson of the Year:

  • Zoom's founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan. "Zoom... became a lifeline for fostering community at a moment of acute isolation," Time stated

Athlete of the Year:

  • LeBron James, US basketball star

Entertainer of the Year:

  • South Korean pop group BTS

Last year, Time's Person of the Year was Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who inspired a global movement to fight climate change. Thunberg, who was 16 at the time, was the youngest person to have won the nomination.

Heroes and villains: Previous winners

Pope Francis

Image source, Getty Images

In 2013, the world's first pontiff from the Americas was chosen as Person of the Year.

Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio had become Pope Francis in March of that year, and had already made his mark, rejecting the glittering trappings of the role to focus on the poorest in society.

Vladimir Putin

In 2007, the title went to a man who Mr Trump has repeatedly said he admires: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, whether Time Magazine admires Mr Putin is less clear.

"TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honour. It is not an endorsement," it wrote in an editorial explaining the decision that year.

"It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world - for better or for worse."

Martin Luther King

The civil rights activist was named Person of the Year in 1963 - the same year he stood at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his acclaimed "I Have a Dream" speech.

He was the first African American to grace the cover, and publically said later he saw it not simply as a personal victory, but a victory for the civil rights movement.

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

Adolf Hitler

If there was ever a recipient to prove the claim that Person of the Year was not an "honour", it was the choice for 1938.

Among other things, 1938 was the year Adolf Hitler "had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world".

But it is the final line that is perhaps the most chilling: "To those who watched the closing events of the year it seemed more than probable that the Man of 1938 may make 1939 a year to be remembered."

Wallis Simpson

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Wallis Simpson, pictured with her husband, the Duke of Windsor

The first woman to be named what had been until then the "Man of the Year" was Wallis Simpson, the divorcee who had almost brought the British monarchy crashing to the ground.

She is still one of the few women to grace the cover alone. Others include Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Philippine President Corazon Aquino.