Photo/Illutration Shingo Kunieda displays his gold medal after the men's wheelchair tennis singles competition at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Wheelchair tennis supremo Shingo Kunieda looks set to become the first para-athlete recipient of the People’s Honor Award for his outstanding achievements in sport.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued instructions to subordinates Feb. 3 to make that happen.

Kunieda, 38, is the winner of 28 Grand Slam titles and three Paralympic gold medals in men’s singles, one of which was in Tokyo in 2021. He was ranked No. 1 at the time of his retirement announcement in January.

“He has left behind a large number of achievements in sport, having remained at the top of his field for close to 20 years,” Kishida told reporters. “I wanted to laud those achievements with the People’s Honor Award.”

At a Feb. 3 news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno explained that Kunieda “has made an exceptionally outstanding contribution to spreading the popularity of not only wheelchair tennis, but Parasports of all kinds as well as the development of sport.”

He said the tennis ace had “provided a wide range of the public with dreams and strong emotion while also giving bright hope and courage to society.”

Kunieda would be the 27th individual to be given the People’s Honor Award.