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Brazilian soccer great Pele says ill health prevents him from going to opening ceremony of Rio Olympics

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Former Brazilian footballer Pele waves to the crowd before the start of the Under-17 boys final match of the Subroto Cup in New Delhi on October 16, 2015. Pele was on a two day visit to the city at the invitation of the Subroto Cup International. A (Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO – Pele says his poor health will prevent him from participating in 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.

Pele says in his statement that “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.

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