Pele pulls out of lighting Olympic cauldron

9:43 am on 6 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - Brazilian football legend Pele will not light the Olympic cauldron at the Rio opening ceremony today due to poor health.

Brazilian football legend Pele

Brazilian football legend Pele Photo: Photosport

Earlier this week, Pele said he was asked to light the cauldron by the organisers,

The 75-year-old, who is considered by many to be the greatest football player of all time, underwent hip surgery at the end of last year and his rehabilitation has been difficult.

Pepito Fornos, a spokesman for Pele, confirmed that he would not light the cauldron because the muscles in his leg that is being rehabilitated are not sufficiently strong enough.

"He is walking with a cane," Fornos said.

"The problem is that if he sits in a chair you need a winch to get him out of it,

"His doctor thought it best that he continues physiotherapy, that he rests and we hope that he will be able to appear at the (Olympic) closing."

Instead, the Brazilian tennis great Gustavo Kuerten is expected to light the Olympic Cauldron.

There has not yet been confirmation from ceremony organisers, who have kept details of the event under wraps.

Kuerten, who is a former world tennis number one, participated in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens.

In 1999 Pele was elected by the International Olympic Committee as the Athlete of the Century, despite never actually competing at the Olympics.