Shinzō Abe will be absent from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe will be absent today from the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo 2020, despite his key role in helping the nation secure the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Abe heavily backed the successful bid of Tokyo 2020 and investing a lot of political capital in it. 

He flew to Buenos Aires in Argentina from a G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg in Russia to address the 125th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in 2013.

Abe played down members concerns over the Fukushima nuclear accident, viewed as key to Tokyo’s successful bid.

Abe memorably appeared at the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony dressed as the popular Nintendo character Mario.

The 66-year-old agreed to the historic postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after talks with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Abe stepped down as Japanese Prime Minister in August for the second time, due to suffering from ulcerative colitis.

His influence in Tokyo 2020 was highlighted when the IOC in November presented Abe with the gold Olympic Order – the Olympic Movement's highest honour.

IOC President Thomas Bach praised his "unwavering commitment to the Olympic Games and the Olympic values".

Shinzō Abe memorably appeared dressed as Super Mario in the Closing Ceremony of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Shinzō Abe memorably appeared dressed as Super Mario in the Closing Ceremony of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Japanese public broadcast NHK reported that Abe will not attend the Opening Ceremony of the rescheduled Games, which have been plagued by doubts due to the ongoing pandemic.

The broadcaster said that Abe decided not to attend the showpiece after the Japanese Government introduced state of emergency measures.

The measures led to a decision to prevent fans from attending Tokyo 2020 events in the host city.

Less than 1,000 dignitaries are due to attend the Opening Ceremony.

Abe’s successor Yoshihide Suga will attend the Opening Ceremony, with only 20 world leaders expected to be present in total.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto hasadmitted the Opening Ceremony will be a "solemn" occasion rather than a festival.

Athletes are set to march into the Japan National Stadium, where Japanese Emperor Naruhito is expected to declare the Games open.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to conclude on August 8.