Washington: President Barack Obama will not attend boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s funeral in Louisville on Friday because it coincides with his daughter Malia’s high school graduation ceremony in Washington, the White House has announced.
Instead, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrey will read a letter from the president and his wife Michelle during the funeral of the boxing champion who passed away last Friday at the age of 74 in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, the Office of Presidential Press announced on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
Hopes of Obama attending Ali’s funeral lessened in recent days after Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Monday that the president “is considering” whether to participate.
Those who will be in attendance include former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Hollywood star Will Smith, who played Ali in a movie. It has also been reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan will attend.
Ali’s family’s spokesman Bob Gunnell said at a press conference on Tuesday that “several heads of state” will attend the funeral, but refused to drop any names.
The public funeral will be held on Friday at the KFC Yum! Center after a procession with Ali’s remains through the streets of Louisville. On Thursday, a Muslim ceremony will take place at Freedom Hall where Ali fought in his hometown for the last time in 1961.