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Japan to bestow People’s Honor Award on wheelchair tennis ace Kunieda



The Japanese government will confer the People’s Honor Award on Shingo Kunieda, one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday.

The presentation ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 17 at the office of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the top government spokesman said at a regular press conference.

Wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda speaks during his retirement press conference in Tokyo on Feb. 7, 2023. (Kyodo)

The government appreciates Kunieda’s “unprecedented achievements” that “gave dreams and thrills to the people and bright hope and courage to society.”

In January, Kunieda, a winner of 28 Grand Slam titles and three Paralympic gold medals in the men’s singles, retired while at the top of the world rankings.

The 39-year-old completed his career Grand Slam by winning at Wimbledon last year. He also won 22 Grand Slam doubles titles.

“I feel honored and humbled,” Kunieda said in a statement. “I hope this will lead to the development of not only wheelchair tennis but also para sports as a whole.”

Kunieda, who began using a wheelchair at the age of 9 as the result of a spinal tumor, took up tennis in his final year of elementary school on the advice of his mother, turning professional in 2009.

Established in 1977, the People’s Honor Award has been given to 26 individuals and one group for achievements in sports, entertainment and culture.

Shingo Kunieda holds up the trophy after winning his first Wimbledon title in wheelchair singles in London on July 10, 2022. Kunieda, who won 50 Grand Slam titles across singles and doubles, announced his retirement from the sport on Jan. 22, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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