RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pele says his poor health will keep him from lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.
In a statement on Friday, Pele says "I'm not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics."
Friday's opening ceremony will need to fill a void without Brazil's most famous athlete. He had hip surgery several years ago and often walks with the help of a cane.
In his statement, Pele says: "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." He says it was "my own decision."
Pele apologized for disappointing Brazilians and says "as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event."
He signed the statement Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Pele.