RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 5 (UPI) — Soccer legend Pelé will not be lighting the Olympic flame at Friday night’s opening ceremony, as had been speculated.
The 75-year-old Brazilian star said Friday that he is not in good enough health to participate in the ceremony, which features various torch-runners and typically culminates in one person — a native sport star — igniting the cauldron.
Pelé has been nursing muscle pains recently and had hip replacement surgery earlier this year. Last year, he had prostate and back surgeries and now walks with the aid of a cane.
“I’m not in physical condition to take part in the opening ceremony,” he said. “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.”
The soccer superstar said he made the decision to decline participation in the opening ceremony at Maracana Stadium.
Other possible Brazilians who might light the cauldron are 36-year-old soccer stars Ronaldo, José Kléberson Pereira, race car driver Felipe Massa, or former tennis champion Gustavo Kuerten.