Entertainment Sports Pelé Will Not Attend Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony, Citing Health Issues Pelé said in a statement that he's not "physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics" By Dave Quinn Dave Quinn Instagram Twitter Dave Quinn is an Editor for PEOPLE, working across a number of verticals including the Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams. People Editorial Guidelines Published on August 5, 2016 02:40 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Jonathan Hordle/REX/Shutterstock Brazil’s most iconic athlete is taking a pass. Pelé – the Brazilian athlete who is widely regarded as the greatest professional footballer in the history of the game – will not be at Friday’s Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The 75-year-old cited health issues as the reason for missing the ceremony, saying he’s not “physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics.” His statement, issued Friday and reported by the Associated Press, went on to explain that the decision was his alone. For more of PEOPLE’s Olympic coverage, pick up our collector’s edition, The Best of the Games, on sale now. “Only God is more important than my health,” he said. “In my life, I’ve had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats. And I’ve always respected those who admire me.” He apologized for disappointing Brazilians and his fans, saying “as a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event.” The soccer star, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was rumored to be the final carrier of the Olympic torch, lighting the Olympic cauldron to open the Games. There’s no word on who will take his place. He had an opportunity to touch the Rio torch in July, displaying his Medal of the Olympic Order from the International Olympic Committee as he grabbed the flame at the Pelé Museum in Santos in São Paulo on the final fortnight before the games. RELATED VIDEO: Michael Phelps is Set to Carry the U.S. Flag For the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony In his 21-year career, Pelé scored a total of 1,283 goals, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has the distinction of being the only player in the history of the game to win three World Cup winner medals – another Guinness record. He’s known by many nicknames in Brazil, including “The Black Pearl,” “The King of Football,” “King Pelé, and “The King.” He retired from the game in 1977. To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Rio Olympics begin Friday on NBC.