Poor health has kept Brazils most famous face out of the show, but director Fernando Meirelles is used to setbacks by now and his message is bigger than one person
Brazils most recognisable celebrity Pel has pulled out of the Rio 2016 opening ceremony just hours before it was due to begin, but the director insisted this would not detract from a show that aims to be about a lot more than sport.
Over the past two years, filmmaker Fernando Meirelles has grown accustomed to setbacks as he has prepared for Friday nights performance amid political and economic turmoil in Brazil.
Underscoring how nothing seems to go right for the country recently, the footballer Pel announced his withdrawal as a result of pain to caused by his recent hip replacement surgery. Local media had reported that he was among the candidates to light the Olympic cauldron.
At this point Im not physically able to attend the opening of the Olympics, the 75-year-old said in a statement. As a Brazilian, I ask God to bless all who participate in this event and to make it a great success.
In an interview with the Guardian, Meirelles said the loss of the footballer made little difference to preparations. A bigger disappointment for him was that the cauldron will be lit by an athlete rather than the group of environmental activists he had proposed.
Its a shame, he said, of the Brazilian Olympic Committees decision. We had put together a great team of heroes from across the world. That would have been a message. Instead there will be a sportsperson. I dont know yet who they will choose. I will find out later at the Maracan.