Despite Illness, Pele Is Set To Close Rio 2016 Olympics

Pele, the international soccer (football) all-star was the first choice to light the Olympic cauldron in the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but failing health kept Pele, 75, away from the festivities. But Pele, perhaps the most famous Brazilian in the world, has confirmed his participation in the Rio Olympics Closing ceremonies. Pele was able to carry the Olympic flame last month in Santos Brazil near Sao Paolo.

Though Pele never played in the Olympic games, he has been a huge supporter of having the summer games in Brazil, according to Esquire. Pele, who is considered perhaps the best soccer player who ever lived, and Pele is mythical on and off of the soccer field. Pele, number 10, was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was named the athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee, so of course they want him to take part in whatever portion of the Rio Olympics possible.

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But right now, Pele is focused on getting well enough to be a part of the Rio Olympics Closing Ceremonies, where, no doubt, he will hear the applause and adulation of a lifetime, says NBC.

“I am continuing my physiotherapy and focused on joining you for the closing festivities on August 21. I love you! #olympics.”


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Recently, Pele has had hip surgery, and is walking with a cane, so Vanderlei de Lima, the Brazilian marathon runner took Pele’s place, lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremonies in Rio.

Organizers have said they were going to do “anything they had to do” to get Pele to be a part of the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, per AfricaNews. And Pele, too wants to be a part of the Rio Olympics in any way he can. Recently, Pele recorded a song dedicated to his country, Brazil, called “Esperança.”

Pele has spoken about not being able to add an Olympic Medal to his trophy case, but when he was still playing, professional soccer players were barred from playing in the Olympics.

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Pele had truly hoped to be the person to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but his recovery surgery was taking longer than expected says the Wall Street Journal.

“At this point I’m not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics. As a Brazilian, I ask that God may bless all who participate in this event, that it be a great success and end peacefully.”

Questions arose about whether Pele would participate at all, because his sponsors would have to give their permission. A spokesman for Pele’s real estate company said that none of Pele’s sponsors objected to Pele participating in any way in the Rio Olympics festivities. Pele is sponsored by Volkswagen and Subway, and both companies have given their okay, but Pele’s health was the thing keeping him away.

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Up until nearly the last moment before the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Pele was determined to do his best to participate, but an error done in his original hip procedure left him unable to light the Olympic cauldron.

“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.”

Pele, now 75, has had several hip surgeries and prostate surgery in attempts to reclaim his health. Pele had his first hip replacement surgery in Brazil, but continued having problems so he went to New York for a second opinion in January, and was informed that his first hip replacement was done incorrectly.

“According to the doctors who examined me, there was a medical error. An error in the technique of the Brazilian doctors.”

Are you hoping to see Pele in the Rio Olympics Closing Ceremonies?

[Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images]