Rio 2016: Pele pulls out of Olympic Games opening ceremony


Football great Pele will not light the Olympic cauldron at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony due to health concerns.

The 75-year-old, a three-time World Cup winner, is the most famous athlete in Brazilian history and was due to perform the coveted task of capping off the showpiece to mark the beginning of the Games. 

However, the former Santos star has had to announce his unavailability just hours before the spectacle at the Maracana, the iconic stadium he graced during his illustrious playing career.

Pele said in a statement: "Dearest friends, 

"Only god is more important than my health.

"In my life I have had fractures, operations, pains, hospital stays, victories and defeats, and I always respect those who admire me.

"The responsibility for the decisions is mine ... I have always tried not to disappoint my family and the Brazilian people.

"In this moment I am not in the physical condition to participate in the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

"And as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event and that it will be a great success and end in peace."