NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Pele, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, has canceled his appearance at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in his native Brazil, due to "ill health," reported the Associated Press.
Pele Edson Arantes do Nascimento, 75, was expected to carry the torch that would light the Olympic cauldron during Friday night's big event at Maracana Stadium.
"I'm not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics," said Pele in a statement issued Friday.
There will be a large void to fill without Brazil's most famous athlete.
Pele had hip surgery several years ago and often walks with the help of a cane.
"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," said Pele.
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.
Earlier in the week, Business Insider reported that Pele wasn't certain if would be able to attend the ceremony due to contractual obligations with sponsors.
A photo of the World Cup champion taken during a TV interview on Aug. 2 was posted to Pele's social media accounts the following day in which he appears to be in good spirits.