SPORTS

Olympic flame arrives in Rio for opening ceremony, Pele invited to light cauldron

The Olympic flame arrived in Rio de Janeiro ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony as hundreds of public workers took to the street against salary delays and in protest of the Games.

The relay from Greece arrived in the Olympic host city from Niteroi, just across a short channel leading into Guanabara Bay. It began with a ceremonial lighting in Ancient Olympia, Greece, on April 21, and will make its way to Maracana Stadium for the opening ceremony on Friday.

Three-time World Cup champion Pele says he was invited to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony, but sponsorship deals could stop him from performing the prestigious task.

Speaking at an event in Rio, Pele said he was invited to light the cauldron by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Rio 2016 organizing committee chairman Carlos Arthur Nuzman.

Philip Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Rio 2016 organizing committee, did not confirm the information, saying the identity of the person lighting the cauldron was supposed to be a surprise.

Pele, 75, said he has a commitment to a sponsor that would make him travel on Friday, the day of the Opening Ceremony. The Brazilian said Nuzman invited him in person and Bach called him to do the same.

"I need to solve the travel issue. It is an international commitment with an English company. But I would love to (light the cauldron)," Pele said. "If I manage to change (the travel plans), I would like to have the honor to light it."

Almost two weeks ago Pele held the Olympic flame in Santos, the city in the outskirts of Sao Paulo where he started his football career. He never took part in the Games.

Demonstrations have erupted in the path of the torch relay in the past couple of months in several Brazilian cities. Police have arrested people who threw water buckets at the torch, in attempts to extinguish it.

An evening of protests on Tuesday forced a change in the path in the neighboring cities of Sao Goncalo and Niteroi. A protest involving 50 people stopped the relay in Sao Goncalo, one of the poorest cities of greater Rio. The same happened later in Niteroi.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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