Pele won’t attend Rio 2016 opening ceremony | football | Hindustan Times
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Pele won’t attend Rio 2016 opening ceremony

Friday’s opening ceremony will need to fill a void without Brazil’s most famous athlete. He had hip surgery several years ago and often walks with the help of a cane. The Rio 2016 organisers have not yet confirmed who they would replace Pele with.

olympics 2016 Updated: Aug 05, 2016 23:02 IST
Brazil legend Pele released a statement confirming his absence at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.
Brazil legend Pele released a statement confirming his absence at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.(Reuters)

Brazilian football legend Pele says his poor health will prevent him from participating in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.

“I’m not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics,” said Pele in a statement.

Friday’s opening ceremony will need to fill a void without Brazil’s most famous athlete. He had hip surgery several years ago and often walks with the help of a cane. The Rio 2016 organisers have not yet confirmed who they would replace Pele with.

“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,” Pele added in the statement. He says it was “my own decision.”

Pele apologised for disappointing Brazilians. “As a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event.”

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 a low-budget event. 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.