Nelson Mandela will miss the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup follow the death of his great-granddaughter in a car crash.
In a brief statement the Nelson Mandela Foundation confirmed Madiba, as he is known to his clan, was in morning following the tragic death Zenani Mandela yesterday.
“It would therefore be inappropriate for him to personally attend the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening celebrations,” explained the statement.
“We are sure that South Africans and people all over the world will stand in solidarity with Mr Mandela and his family in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
The 13-year-old died when a car taking her home from a Soweto concert on the eve of the World Cup overturned on the M1.
The driver was subsequently arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
As many as 50,000 guests had attended the concert, which featured performances from Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys, as well as African stars Amadou & Mariam and Hugh Masekela.
Speaking to the Associated Press spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane said: “He lost control of the vehicle and it collided with a barricade.
“The Metro police found that he was drunk.”
Despite the tragedy the Nelson Mandela Foundation offered its support to the tournament, which is due to kick-off later today when hosts South Africa take on Mexico in Johannesburg.
“We continue to believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup is a momentous and historic occasion for South Africa and the continent and we are certain it will be a huge success,” added a statement.
“Madiba will be there with you in spirit today.”
Ms Madikizela-Mandela was also hospitalised following the incident.
While she was not involved in the accident she was treated by medical staff for shock.
Mr Mandela had been scheduled to appear at the opening ceremony, but visitors had been warned he was unlikely to attend the whole event following concerns over his health.