Glasgow (AFP) - The Commonwealth Games were dealt a huge blow Thursday when England's double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah announced he was withdrawing due to fitness concerns.
Farah, alongside Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, is one of the most recognisable faces of track and field, and his absence will be sorely missed.
"There's no question that we're disappointed," admitted David Grevemberg, the chief executive of Glasgow 2014.
"Certainly there'll be some disappointed people, but there's plenty of great athletes that are coming and are here. We're looking forward to welcoming people to some great competition over the next few days and when the athletics kicks off on Sunday."
Farah, the 5,000 and 10,000 metres Olympic and world champion, was recently laid low by illness and has decided to pull out of the Commonwealths to work on his fitness ahead of next month's European Championships in Zurich.
"I have taken the tough decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games," Farah, 31, said in a statement released by Team England.
"I really wanted to add the Commonwealth titles to my Olympic and World Championships, but the event is coming a few weeks too soon for me as my body is telling me it's not ready to race yet. Best wishes to my fellow athletes in Glasgow."
Farah had been preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Font Romeu in southern France and he revealed that he will remain there in the build-up to the European Championships, which begin on August 12.
"The sickness I had two weeks ago was a big setback for me," he added.
"Training is getting better here in Font Romeu but I need another few weeks to get back to the level I was at in 2012 and 2013."
Farah's withdrawal falls on the first day of competition in Glasgow and robs the event of a major draw.
The Somali-born runner became a household name in Great Britain when he took gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
He repeated the feat at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, becoming only the second man -- after Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele -- to claim titles over the two distances in athletics' two most prestigious competitions.
"It is a real blow for any athlete to miss out on a major championships through injury, but to have fought so hard to regain full fitness and to have to take such a difficult decision at this stage is particularly hard," said Team England's chef de mission, Jan Paterson.
"We wish Mo all the very best and hope to see him back to his peak very soon."
Farah's agent Ricky Simms confirmed Farah would compete in Zurich, telling BBC Sport that Bolt, another of his clients, remains available to run in the men's 4x100m in Glasgow.
It had been widely feared that Bolt would not be fit for Glasgow after missing the Jamaican national championships.
But he has made himself available for the relay, compatriots Yohan Blake (hamstring injury) and Asafa Powell (ban) having already been ruled out.
Other big names missing from the Games include British heptathlon star Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has just given birth to her first child, and Isle of Man cyclist Mark Cavendish (shoulder injury).
- Sports & Recreation
- Athletics, Track & Field
- Commonwealth Games
- Mo Farah
- Usain Bolt
- 2012 Olympic Games