The Central government has decided not to invite any foreign dignitary as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade this year in view of Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

“Due to the global Covid- 19 pandemic, it has been decided that there will be no foreign head of state or head of government as the chief guest for the Republic Day event,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was scheduled to come to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day.

Johnson, however, has cancelled his visit following the rapid spread of the new coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom.

This will be the first time in over five decades that the Republic Day celebrations will not have a foreign dignitary as the chief guest.

The last time the parade did not have a chief guest was in 1966 when Indira Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister on 24 January after the demise of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

There were two other years when the Republic Day parade did not have a chief guest, once in 1952 and then in 1953.