Japan’s Emperor Naruhito is likely to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23 and declare the Games open, according to a report. The Olympics host country is making arrangements for the emperor’s attendance at the opening ceremony, Kyodo news agency reported, quoting an unnamed official privy to the development. The report said Naruhito “is prepared to also meet with visiting foreign dignitaries at the Imperial Palace."
However, imperial family members are unlikely to watch other events after the Organising Committee decided to stage almost all of the competitions behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the report. The 61-year-old emperor is the honorary patron of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
The Olympic Charter stipulates that the host country’s head of state proclaims the Games open. Emperor Naruhito Emperor Naruhito had earlier expressed concern, through the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency Yasuhiko Nishimura, that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.
“His majesty is extremely worried about the current situation of the COVID-19 infections, Nishimura said last month. While there are voices of unease among the public, I believe (the emperor) is concerned that holding Olympics and Paralympics may lead to the expansion of the infections.
Naruhito is the third emperor to have accepted the role of honorary patron and the first to have assumed it for both the Olympics and Paralympics. His father, Emperor Akihito, declared the opening of the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, while his grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, proclaimed the start of both the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games and the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games.