JOHANNESBURG - The first World Cup ever held in Africa opened Friday in a dazzling burst of joy, color and noise - and just a tinge of sadness.
Before a jubilant, horn-blowing crowd in Soccer City, the spectacular stadium between Johannesburg and Soweto, hundreds of African dancers in vivid greens, reds and yellows paraded onto the field for the opening ceremony of the monthlong tournament.
Most of the fans were in the yellow jerseys of Bafana Bafana - the host country's team - which was playing Mexico following the pageantry.
The elation was tempered by news that Nelson Mandela, the revered anti-apartheid leader and former South African president, would not attend the ceremony. The 91-year-old Mandela is frail, and decided not to come after his 13-year-old great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash on the way home from Thursday night's World Cup concert.
Several other icons of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa were on hand - including Mandela's former wife, Winnie, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who at one point was dancing in his seat to the music.
Former South Africa President F.W. De Klerk, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for negotiating an end to white-minority rule, also was present, organizers said.