Nelson Mandela to miss World Cup opening ceremony
Nelson Mandela will not attend today’s World Cup opening ceremony following the tragic death of his great-granddaughter in a car crash last night.
Concerns over 91-year-old’s health had originally been played down by the Organising Committee chief executive, Danny Jordaan.
“He wants to be there, and as things stand there is a great chance that in fact he will be there,” said Jordan.
However last night’s tragic news means the former president will not be in attendance this afternoon.
Thirteen-year-old Zenani Mandela, one of Mandela’s nine great-granddaughters, died as a result of the crash and the Nelson Mandela foundation said the tragedy made it inappropriate for him to attend.
The 40-minute festivities start at 1300BST at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium before the first game of the tournament pits the host nation against Mexico at 1500BST.
Mandela played a key role in South Africa’s bid to host the tournament and his influence was highlighted by current president, Jacob Zuma.
“Nelson Mandela worked hard that we should win the right to host this tournament. We dedicate the World Cup to him,” said Zuma yesterday.
“There are a few moments that define a nation’s history. We stand on the threshold of one as we draw closer and closer to Friday, June 11 when the World Cup officially begins.”
South Africa is the first nation in Africa to host the World Cup.