Brazil’s “King of Football,” Pele, has been awarded the Olympics’ highest honor by the International Olympic Committee.
Its a celebration a few weeks ahead of this year’s Rio Games. But problems like the Zika virus, a political scandal, and an economic crisis have overshadowed the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reports.
He may have been hobbled by a crutch leftover from recent hip surgery, but Pele’s star quality shone brightly as ever as the Brazilian football legend took the stage.
The 75-year-old “King of Football” was awarded the Olympic movement’s highest honor – the medal of the Olympic Order.
Ironically, Pele never competed in an Olympics since professional players were barred in his day. But IOC president Thomas Bach said Pele was deserving of the award because he exemplifies the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect.
“We are going now though a very difficult political period in Brazil. I remember when I was 17 years old, in 1958, and went to my first World Cup, in Sweden, I found it absurd that no one knew anything about Brazil. And I am sure that thanks to football and my participation we made Brazil known worldwide,” Pele said.
Pele was deeply involved in Brazil’s victorious campaign to host this year’s Olympics at a time when the country’s economy was booming and optimism was high. But now, with the country suffering political and economic crises, enthusiasm for the upcoming sporting event has waned considerably.
Bach, who has been in Brazil touring Olympic venues ahead of the upcoming games, said he hopes the event will help bring the country together – at least while the games are underway.
Despite all the difficulties, government and Olympic authorities say everything will be ready in time for the games in August. Another question, is whether Brazilians will be able to set their worries aside and join in the big sporting party.
Rafael Salies on the visit of IOC president
For more on the visit, CCTV’s Mike Walter talks to Rafael Salies, the Brazilian operations director for Southern Pulse.