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Japanese Crown Prince Akishino to attend Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony

Crown Prince Akishino is seen on Nov. 20, 2020, at his residence in the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo. (Pool photo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese Crown Prince Akishino will attend the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics in place of Emperor Naruhito, the Imperial Household Agency said Friday.

    The emperor's younger brother will attend the event at the National Stadium, to be held without spectators due to COVID-19 concerns, on Aug. 8.

    The emperor, who serves as the honorary patron of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, declared the start of the games at the opening ceremony on July 23 in accordance with the Olympic Charter's rule that stipulates the role be given to the host nation's head of state.

    The International Olympic Committee prescribes the closing ceremony be attended by the head of state or someone chosen by them, according to the agency.

    At the previous Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Emperor Hirohito, the current monarch's grandfather, attended both the opening and closing ceremonies.

    Emperor Naruhito's opening declaration delivered last week in Japanese -- "I hereby declare the opening of the Tokyo Games commemorating the 32nd Olympiad of the modern era" -- became the subject of scrutiny for saying "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 reflect mixed feelings among the Japanese public about hosting the Olympics during a global pandemic.

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