Brazilian soccer legend Pele, was awarded the Olympic Order, highest IOC award, on Thursday, by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The “King of Football” was granted the highest honour by the body for his significant contributions to the movement.
IOC president Thomas Bach presented the award in form of an Olympic necklace of rings and laurels to Pele while visiting the Pele Museum in Santos, Sao Paulo.
“It is a distinct honour to announce today that the International Olympic Committee has accepted the nomination of Pele as a recipient of the Olympic Order, the highest distinction the IOC can award, following the recommendation of the Brazilian Olympic Committee,” Bach said.
Ironically, 75-year-old Pele has never competed in an Olympics since professional players were barred during his days.
“I joke with my friends because we really never had a title, and this was a chance God gave to me in receiving this honour. Let’s hope and think positively, that maybe we can take an Olympic title, and once again, for all those who have been part of my story, thank you very much, may God protect you,” he said.
Pele was instrumental in Brazil’s victorious campaign to host the games at a time that Brazil’s economy was booming but now, the country is suffering political and economic crisis coupled with the threat of the Zika virus.
Enthusiasm for the upcoming sporting event is low.
Despite the challenges, the Olympic authorities and the Brazilian government say everything will be ready in time for the games scheduled to begin on August 5.