Pele’s health threatens to douse Olympic flame hopes

  • Agence France-Presse, Sao Paulo
  • Updated: Aug 05, 2016 08:46 IST
Brazil football legend Pele is suffering from muscle pain that is affecting his mobility, his spokesperson said on Thursday. (Reuters)

Brazil football legend Pele wants to light the Rio Olympic flame at the opening ceremony on Friday, but poor health may prevent him from accepting the honour, his spokesman said on Thursday.

Doubts over whether Pele, 75, would be free to carry the torch to the cauldron in the Maracana stadium have been cleared up, spokesman, Jose Fornos Rodrigues, told news agency AFP. The new question mark is over his health. “Getting free is not a problem now, but he has muscle pain which is affecting his mobility. He has gone to the doctor to see how things are,” the spokesman, also known as Pepito, said.

“We still don’t know whether he can take part in the lighting of the cauldron,” Pepito said, “but he’s trying.”

On Wednesday, Pele told Globo television he had been invited to light the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach. However, he said he had concerns over existing arrangements.

Pele -- real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento -- is widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time. The striker won three World Cups with Brazil but never competed at the Olympics. He has undergone several hip operations and walks with a cane.

The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics is expected to be of lower budget than what is the norm for the Games. While the Rio 2016 organising committee has not said how much the ceremony cost, it is believed to be about half of the $42 million spent by London in 2012.

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