US President Joe Biden falls on stage
US President Joe Biden falls on stage during the 2023 United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony at Falcon Stadium, on Thursday, June 1, 2023, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Image Credit: AP

Colorado Springs: President Joe Biden tripped and fell after handing out the last diploma at a graduation ceremony at the US Air Force Academy on Thursday, but got up quickly and walked back to his seat.

The 80-year-old US president fell forward, caught himself with his hands, then got up on one knee helped by three people.

He walked back to his seat unassisted.

After Biden was helped up, he pointed behind him, seeming to indicate what he tripped over. He mingled with other officials afterward, smiling and giving a "thumbs up" sign.

White House communications director Ben LaBolt said on Twitter that Biden was fine. "There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands," he explained.

"He's totally fine," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters later.

The fall came after a commencement address Biden delivered to a flag-waving audience where he warned graduates they will enter service in an increasingly unstable world, citing challenges from Russia and China.

Biden, the oldest person to hold the Oval Office, is running for re-election in 2024. His leading Republican opponent, Donald Trump, turns 77 this month.

Trump reacts

Trump, asked about Biden's fall during an Iowa rally, said "He actually fell down? Well I hope he wasn't hurt." Trump added "You gotta be careful about that," even if you have to "tip-toe down a ramp." In June of 2020, Trump's slow, careful descent of a ramp at the US Military Academy at West Point had some observers questioning his agility. "The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with," Trump tweeted afterward.

This February, doctors declared Biden healthy and fit for duty after a physical examination, noting the President does not drink alcohol or use tobacco and exercises "at least" five times a week.

Biden fell as he was dismounting his bicycle last June, after snaring a foot in a toe clip, but was uninjured.

Polls show Americans are concerned about anyone over 75 becoming president. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that falls among adults 65 and older are the leading cause of fatal injury for that group.