UPDATE: Contrary to speculation, Guga Kuerten only brought the torch into the stadium, while it was Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, the man who took bronze after he was attacked during the marathon at the 2004 Games in Athens, who lit the Cauldron. You can watch video here.
The 2016 Rio Olympic torch was ignited on April 21 in Olympia, Greece, has traveled nearly 40,000km and has been carried by over 12,000 torchbearers.
On Friday, the symbolic flame will find its resting place at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during an Opening Ceremony that will be watched by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Only one question remains: Who will be the final torchbearer?
It’s usually kept a secret up until the memorable moment during the Opening Ceremony, but there are reports that 39-year-old Gustavo Kuerten will receive the momentous honor.
The 39-year-old, who was born in Florianópolis, Brazil, is a former World No. 1 tennis player who won three French Open titles throughout his career.
Legendary footballer Pele was first asked to light the Cauldron, but it was announced Friday–just hours before the Opening Ceremony–that he had to decline due to health concerns.
“In my life I have had fractures, surgeries, pain, hospital stays, victories and defeats, and respecting those who admire me,” said the 75-year-old. “I’ve always tried not to disappoint my family and the Brazilian people. At this point, I’m not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics.
It’s unfortunate that one of the most successful and recognizable sports figures in the world, let alone Brazil, won’t be there for the iconic moment.
Pele transcended the game. At the age of 17, he led his country to a World Cup title in 1958 and ultimately won the international tournament three times. “The King of Football” was named the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, received the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur in 2014 and has countless other achievements to his name.
When you think of athletic success, and when you think of Brazil, you think of Pele.
There’s no word on who will replace him, but it will surely be a memorable moment nevertheless.