Sports world honors Nelson Mandela

South Africans of all races flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honor Nelson Mandela as a large contingent of foreign dignitaries, including royalty, begin arriving in the country to pay their final respects to the liberation struggle icon.




The government said Sunday that 53 heads of state and government as well as a broad range of eminent persons had confirmed that they would be attending a national memorial service and state funeral for the country's first black and democratically-elected president. The memorial service is expected to be one of the biggest in modern times.

— Associated Press



Mandela united a nation through sports. He saw the power that sports could have upon people. Throughout the week sports teams have been honoring Mandela.

Golf fans wave South African flags in tribute to the late President Nelson Mandela after the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 8, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Golf fans wave South African flags in tribute to the late President Nelson Mandela after the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 8, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Golf fans wave South African flags in tribute to the late President Nelson Mandela after the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 8, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
England observe a minutes silence in memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
England observe a minutes silence in memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
England observe a minutes silence in memory of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Before the Orlando Magic play the New York Knicks in a game a moment of silence is held for the great Nelson Mandela who was the first black South African President and an anti-Apartheid revolutionary at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 6, 2013.
Before the Orlando Magic play the New York Knicks in a game a moment of silence is held for the great Nelson Mandela who was the first black South African President and an anti-Apartheid revolutionary at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 6, 2013.
Before the Orlando Magic play the New York Knicks in a game a moment of silence is held for the great Nelson Mandela who was the first black South African President and an anti-Apartheid revolutionary at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 6, 2013.
Ernie Els of South Africa observes a minutes silence after the death of South African President Nelson Mandela prior to the continuation of the weather delayed first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 6, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Ernie Els of South Africa observes a minutes silence after the death of South African President Nelson Mandela prior to the continuation of the weather delayed first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 6, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Ernie Els of South Africa observes a minutes silence after the death of South African President Nelson Mandela prior to the continuation of the weather delayed first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on December 6, 2013 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Fans pay tribute to Nelson Mandela during the 2nd Momentum ODI match between South Africa and India at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 08, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)
Fans pay tribute to Nelson Mandela during the 2nd Momentum ODI match between South Africa and India at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 08, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)
Fans pay tribute to Nelson Mandela during the 2nd Momentum ODI match between South Africa and India at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 08, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)
Rene Khrin # 4 of Bologna FC wears a shirt with a sign dedicated to Nelson Mandela during the warm up before the beginning of the Serie A match between Bologna FC and Juventus at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on December 6, 2013 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Rene Khrin # 4 of Bologna FC wears a shirt with a sign dedicated to Nelson Mandela during the warm up before the beginning of the Serie A match between Bologna FC and Juventus at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on December 6, 2013 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Rene Khrin # 4 of Bologna FC wears a shirt with a sign dedicated to Nelson Mandela during the warm up before the beginning of the Serie A match between Bologna FC and Juventus at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on December 6, 2013 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Ajax fans celebrate Nelson Mandela following his death, during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium on December 06, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Mandela was a leader that helped conquer apartheid in racially divided South Africa after being jailed for his activism for decades. He was South Africa's first black president. He died yesterday at the age of 95. (Photo by Luigi Bennett/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Ajax fans celebrate Nelson Mandela following his death, during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium on December 06, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Mandela was a leader that helped conquer apartheid in racially divided South Africa after being jailed for his activism for decades. He was South Africa's first black president. He died yesterday at the age of 95. (Photo by Luigi Bennett/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Ajax fans celebrate Nelson Mandela following his death, during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium on December 06, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Mandela was a leader that helped conquer apartheid in racially divided South Africa after being jailed for his activism for decades. He was South Africa's first black president. He died yesterday at the age of 95. (Photo by Luigi Bennett/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Players and fans during the moment of silence for Nelson Mandela during the Dutch Eredivisie match between FC Groningen and ADO Den Haag at De Euroborg on December 08, 2013 in Groningen, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
one minute silence Nelson Mandela during the Dutch Eredivisie match between FC Groningen and ADO Den Haag at De Euroborg on December 08, 2013 in Groningen, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
Players and fans during the moment of silence for Nelson Mandela during the Dutch Eredivisie match between FC Groningen and ADO Den Haag at De Euroborg on December 08, 2013 in Groningen, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
The fans of Livorno with a banner for Nelson Mandela during the Serie A match between AS Livorno and AC Milan at Stadio Armando Picchi on December 7, 2013 in Livorno, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
The fans of Livorno with a banner for Nelson Mandela during the Serie A match between AS Livorno and AC Milan at Stadio Armando Picchi on December 7, 2013 in Livorno, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
The fans of Livorno with a banner for Nelson Mandela during the Serie A match between AS Livorno and AC Milan at Stadio Armando Picchi on December 7, 2013 in Livorno, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
The two teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
The two teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
The two teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Britannia Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Fans observe a moment of silence in tribute to the late Nelson Mandela before the singing of the national anthems prior to a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on December 7, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Fans observe a moment of silence in tribute to the late Nelson Mandela before the singing of the national anthems prior to a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on December 7, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Fans observe a moment of silence in tribute to the late Nelson Mandela before the singing of the national anthems prior to a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on December 7, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
A tribute to Nelson Mandela is displayed on a screen as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and hosts Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert stand on stage before the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
A tribute to Nelson Mandela is displayed on a screen as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and hosts Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert stand on stage before the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
A tribute to Nelson Mandela is displayed on a screen as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and hosts Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert stand on stage before the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Both teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela prior to the FA Cup Second Round match between Port Vale and Salisbury City at Vale Park on December 6, 2013 in Burslem, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Both teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela prior to the FA Cup Second Round match between Port Vale and Salisbury City at Vale Park on December 6, 2013 in Burslem, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Both teams line up for a minutes applause in memory of Nelson Mandela prior to the FA Cup Second Round match between Port Vale and Salisbury City at Vale Park on December 6, 2013 in Burslem, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Michael Clarke of Australia stands for a minute silence in memory of Nelson Mandela during day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Michael Clarke of Australia stands for a minute silence in memory of Nelson Mandela during day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Michael Clarke of Australia stands for a minute silence in memory of Nelson Mandela during day two of the Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 6, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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