Pele to miss Rio’s Opening ceremonies due to health
Pele announced Friday he would not light the Olympic cauldron during the game’s Opening ceremonies tonight, Anadolu reported.
The 75-year-old Brazilian football legend pulled out of the festivities due to poor health following a series of hip surgeries, the latest of which was in December.
“Only God is more important than my health. In my life, I've had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats. And I've always respected those who admire me,” he said in a statement, noting that it was “my own decision", according to The Associated Press.
The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is widely seen as the ceremonial start of the games.
The iconic footballer apologized to his countrymen, telling Brazilians “as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event.”
Pele is widely considered to be Brazil's most famous sportsman and the game’s best ever athlete.
It is unclear who will replace the three-time World Cup champion.