Emperor Naruhito will attend next week’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.
As was the case with the recently concluded Olympics, the emperor, who is the honorary patron of the Tokyo Games, is expected to declare the opening of the Paralympics on Tuesday night during the ceremony at Tokyo’s National Stadium.
The agency said Empress Masako will not participate in the ceremony, as organizers have decided to reduce the number of attendees to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The emperor’s opening declaration for the 17-day Olympics on July. 23, delivered in Japanese, became the subject of scrutiny as he said “commemorating” in place of the traditionally used “celebrating.”
The change in wording drew speculation that the emperor and officials at the agency had sought to take into account mixed feelings among the Japanese public about hosting the Olympics during a global pandemic.
The Tokyo Paralympics, delayed for one year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will involve up to about 4,400 athletes from around the world.
Since the Paralympics will be held without spectators because of surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, the emperor and members of the imperial family will not watch any competitions in person, according to the agency.
The 61-year-old emperor declared the opening of the Nagano Winter Paralympics in 1998 when he was crown prince.
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