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1ST LEAD Pele was original choice to light Rio Olympics cauldron By Georg Ismar, dpa

Europe
Von unserem dpa-Korrespondenten und Europe Online   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Brazilian football icon Pele was the orginal choice to light the Olympic cauldron at the Rio Games opening ceremony, organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said on Saturday.

Andrada told a news conference "with his permission we went to plan B" when it became clear that the 75-year-old Pele was not fit enough for the task owing to health problems and on the advice of doctors.

Pele was quoted as saying he had been invited to light the cauldron but said in a statement Friday he had to pass owing to recent surgery.

Marathon runner Vanderlei De Lima lit the cauldron on Friday night at the Maracana stadium, and was overwhelmed by the experience 12 years after being denied the 2004 gold when he was briefly pushed off the track by a spectator, settling for bronze.

"No doubt that I got a gold," the O Globo paper quoted De Lima as saying. "It is even more than a medal to participate in this most significant event in the world, and at home."

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