How utterly heartbreaking! Pele, arguably the greatest soccer player the game has ever known, won’t attend the Rio 2016 Olympics opening ceremony. Despite the games happening in his home country of Brazil, the sports legend is too ill!
“I’m not physically able to attend the opening the Olympics,” Pele, 75, said in a statement on Aug. 5, per the Associated Press. While any celebrity dropping out of the opening ceremony would be disappointing, this is Pele, the biggest name of the biggest sport in the world. His absence will leave a huge void.
However, it sounds like Pele is not too concerned with sitting this event out. “Only God is more important than my health,” he said in the statement. “In my life, I’ve had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats. And I’ve always respected those who admire me.” Though Pele apologized for his disappointing decision, he says, “[A]s a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event.”
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) August 5, 2016
Pele had hip surgery years ago and often walks with the help of a cane. Though he can’t play like he used to, the man born Edson Arantes do Nascimento is still considered the greatest of all time, having scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. He’s listed as the Guinness World Record holder for most goals scored in soccer because of this.
Even when Pele was still scheduled to appear at the Opening Ceremony, there was some doubt that he would be allowed to light the Olympic cauldron with the official flame of the 2016 Rio games. What could possibly stand in the way of Brazil’s greatest sports hero from receiving such an honor? Sponsor obligations, per Business Insider.
“As a Brazilian, I would love to do it,” he said when asked about the honor, but Pele sold off the rights to his brand name to an unspecified American company. “I have a contract that I am bound to fulfill,” he said and the only way he’d be able to participate in this historic moment is if he got permission from his sponsors, first. Sadly, that whole point is moot, as the greatest soccer player the pitch has seen will now watch the Opening Ceremony from home.
Are you sad that Pele won’t be able to attend the Olympics Opening ceremony, HollywoodLifers? Were you looking forward to Pele being a part of the extravaganza? Leave your “get well soon” messages below!