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Jennifer Lopez makes surprise exit from World Cup opening ceremony

In this photo provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, Jennifer Lopez performs at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012

Brian Jones/AP

Where's J-Lo?

The World Cup will kick off later this week with the usual pageantry and fanfare but without Jennifer Lopez, who has excused herself from performing the official World Cup song at the opening ceremony in São Paulo on Thursday.

On late Sunday night, a representative for the singer informed CNN: "Regretfully, Jennifer Lopez will not be attending this year's World Cup opening ceremonies."

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No question J-Lo will be conspicuous in her absence from the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Last month, Lopez teamed with fellow American artist Pitbull and the Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte to record the rousing World Cup anthem We Are One (Ola Ola). You can watch the official music video for We Are One here.

And the same trio were scheduled to perform the song at the opening ceremony in Thursday, just ahead of the host city's first match against Croatia. But now that's not going to happen,

BBC News reports that Lopez could not attend the opening ceremony due to unspecified "production issues." To quote directly from the FIFA statement: "For production issues, Jennifer Lopez, one of the artists of the official song We Are One, will not be able to perform at the Fifa World Cup opening ceremony." BBC also reports that Pitbull and Leitte will perform as planned and will be accompanied by the drumming troupe known as Olodum.

Broadcast live from São Paulo's Arena Corinthians, the opening ceremony will showcase roughly 600 artists, including gymnasts, stilt-walkers and acrobats. Up to one-billion viewers are expected to watch the event worldwide, reports BBC.

The official song for 2010 World Cup in South Africa was Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), which was performed by the Colombian singer Shakira.

For what it's worth, J-Lo had no problem performing We Are One with Pitbull and Leitte at the Billboard Music Awards last month.

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At the same time, it's worth noting that some Brazilian fans are deeply unhappy with We Are One, reports the Associated Press, in part because of the involvement of Cuban-American Pitbull and Bronx-born Puerto-Rican Lopez, with Leitte seemingly a token addition.

And yes, We Are One is sung almost entirely in English and Spanish, with Leitte only having a few seconds to sing in her native Portugese near the end of the song.

In fact, in recent weeks disgruntled Brazilians have launched a Twitter campaign to replace We Are One with the previous Shakira song under the hashtag #voltawakawaka.

Perhaps Lopez bailed out of this week's opening ceremony simply to avoid controversy?

Keep in mind that this is the same star who made a tearful departure from American Idol, and then made a dramatic comeback to the show barely a year later.

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