More than 90 world leaders and tens of thousands of South Africans plan to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service Tuesday in the Johannesburg township of Soweto.
The gathering, part of 10 days of national mourning, takes place at the soccer stadium where the former president made his last public appearance, in 2010, at the final game of soccer's World Cup championships. Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.
Mandela was famous for bringing together people of all races, economic backgrounds and political persuasions, and his memorial is expected to do the same. President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, are among the foreign leaders selected to address the gathering.
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be joined in South Africa by former President George W. Bush; Former President Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and former President Carter. The only other living U.S. president, George H.W. Bush, has been in frail health and will not make the trip.
Another world leader who won't be there is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who decided to skip the event, citing the high travel costs, Israeli media reported Monday.
That might not be the only reason for the decision, reports the Los Angeles Times' Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem.
"It would simply have been wrong for Netanyahu to attend," Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, was quoted as saying. "The Palestinian issue was so important to Mandela, and Mandela regarded Netanyahu as responsible for repeatedly halting the peace process."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was among the foreign dignitaries -- including heads of state and governments, as well as royalty -- who confirmed their intention to take part in the week's memorial events, the South African government said.
Times correspondent Robyn Dixon in Johannesburg reports that the 90,000-plus-capacity FNB Stadium is expected to fill quickly Tuesday for the memorial. Those unable to attend in person will be able to watch a live broadcast on screens set up in squares, stadiums and other gathering places across the country.
Millions more are expected to watch on television.ALSO: