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Pele ruled out of Olympic opening ceremony

Pele ruled out of Olympic opening ceremony

Brazilian football great Pele will not be attending the Olympic opening ceremony due to ill health.

Rio 2016 officially gets under way on Friday as the imposing Maracana hosts the start of the Games.

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

However, the 75-year-old has released a statement saying health reasons will prevent 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 respecting those who admire me.

"The responsibility of the decisions are mine, where 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.

"And, as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event and it is a great success and finish alone!"

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

The 75-year-old has been in Rio de Janeiro in the build-up to the opening ceremony to launch an academy in his name.

Hours before the announcement that he would miss the opening ceremony, the former striker posted a photo on Instagram alongside ex-Brazil captain Carlos Alberto in front of a Pele Academia backboard.

Brazilian media are tipping sailing great Torben Grael and three-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten as potential candidates to light the cauldron in Pele's absence.