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Ill health stops Pele attending Rio show


Pele. Photo: Getty

Pele. Photo: Getty

Pele. Photo: Getty

Brazilian football great Pele did not attend the Olympic opening ceremony due to ill health.

Pele was reportedly in line to light the Olympic cauldron at the Maracana, following in the footsteps of the likes of Muhammad Ali and Cathy Freeman.

However, the 75-year-old released a statement saying health reasons prevented him from attending the opening ceremony.

"Only God is more important than my health," Pele said in a statement reported widely by the Brazilian media.

"In my life I have had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats - and I have always respected those who admire me.

"The responsibility of the decisions are mine. I have always tried not to disappoint my family and the people of Brazil.

"At this moment, I am not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics."

Pele had a new hip fitted in 2012 and has had several health issues since, including undergoing prostate and back surgery last summer.

The football icon (75) had been in Rio de Janeiro in the build-up to the opening ceremony to launch an academy in his name, and posted a photo on Instagram alongside ex-Brazil captain Carlos Alberto in front of a Pele Academia backboard just prior to the announcement.