KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Joao Havelange, health permitting, will attend the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as an honoured guest of the organisers after his crucial role in bringing the Games to South America for the first time.
In London today organising committee president Carlos Nuzman said: “Dr Havelange will complete 100 years next May 8 and I hope that he will come to the Games.
“He worked hard for us during our bid and invited everybody to come to celebrate his century. So we hope he is in good enough health.
Havelange’s reputation on the international sports stage collapsed after the long-time former president of FIFA and son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira were revealed as having accepted $20m in illicit commissions from ISL, the world football federation’s bankrupted former commercial partner.
However Havelange remains a giant figure in the Brazilian sporting landscape after his career as an Olympic swimmer and waterpolo player, World Cup-winning head of the national football federation and then revolutionary role at the head of the world game.
In 2009 Havelange memorably led off Rio’s bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen by inviting its members to vote to “join me in celebrating my 100th birthday” at the Rio 2016 Games.
Havelange’s fellow IOC members voted as he invited them.
Since then, however, he has had quit as an IOC honorary member and as honorary president of FIFA over the ISL scandal.
His name has also been removed from the stadium in the northern Rio suburb of Engenhao which will stage some of the Olympic football matches as well as the athletics.
Host club Botafogo renamed the stadium after their old World Cup-winning hero Nilton Santos though it will be known as the Estadio Olimpico for the duration of the Games.
Hosts Brazil will be favourites to win the football Olympic gold medal for the first time in their history. If they reach the final then Havelange, health permitting, would be expected to put in an appearance too.
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