Dubai: The International Cricket Council on Friday joined the world in mourning the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, saying that the former South African President was a "towering symbol of resistance" who would inspire generations to come.
ICC President Alan Isaac and Chief Executive David Richardson issued a statement to pay tribute to Mandela who passed away at the age of 95 in South Africa after prolonged illness.
"Nelson Mandela was a towering symbol of resistance, a leader, an activist, and a man who recognised the power of sport to inspire and bring people together," Isaac said in his message.
"Mr Mandela never compromised his principles and his beliefs in justice and equality. As South Africa`s first black President, Mr Mandela recognised and utilised sport as a mechanism to unite the divided people of South Africa and create a shared national identity and pride. As a statesman, he was remarkable, and as a man, he was inspirational."
Richardson echoed the sentiment. "This is extremely sad news not only for all those in my home country of South Africa, but around the world. Mr Mandela was celebrated for his unwavering dedication to human rights, equality and respect.
"He was and will forever remain a true hero," he said.
Madiba, as Mandela was fondly known, had been battling health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalisations.
Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid before becoming the country`s first black leader, had faced several health scares.
His most recent hospital stay spanning over three months was his longest since he walked free in 1990.
Mandela is respected worldwide for his role in fighting racism in South Africa, and for forgiving his former white captors after his release from prison.