The long-delayed football tournament comes amid a growing pandemic in Brazil, which has claimed more than 486,000 lives.
Following uncertainty about which country would host him, a Brazilian Supreme Court hearing on his possible postponement and coronavirus infections reported by three teams, the long-awaited Copa America A football tournament has opened in the capital of Brazil.
Hosts Brasil opened the international match against Venezuela on Sunday at 18:00 local time (21:00 GMT) at an empty Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia.
The opening match comes just days after local health authorities reported that they had Venezuelan players and staff gave positive for COVID-19, which has ravaged Brazil and caused more than 486,000 deaths.
In total, 13 members of the Venezuelan national team delegation tested positive for the virus, including the technical staff, said the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL.
Bolivia later said three of their players and a coach had also tested positive and were isolated before their team’s debut on Monday against Paraguay. On Sunday, two members of the Colombian delegation also tested positive.
The Copa America has been affected by uncertainty, as the tournament was delayed 12 months due to the pandemic and the original co-hosts of Colombia and Argentina were forced to withdraw. continuous social unrest in the former, i increasing COVID-19 infections in the latter.
CONMEBOL announced late last month, Brazil would host the tournament and raise renewed questions and concerns about whether the event would worsen the South American nation’s coronavirus crisis.
Monica Yanakiew, of Al Jazeera, reported Sunday in Rio de Janeiro that Brazil is expected to reach the dark milestone of half a million coronavirus deaths during or immediately after the tournament.
The country has reported more than 486,000 deaths and more than 17.3 million cases so far, according to a Johns Hopkins University count – and health experts have warned that another wave of the pandemic is possible.
The America’s Cup also comes amid ongoing parliamentary investigation into how the government of Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has handled the pandemic, Yanakiew said.
“Every day in the investigation in Congress, people discuss why the government downplayed the virus. The president himself does not wear masks, holds rallies, has crowds, says masks are not necessary, says distancing is not necessary. “This is the backdrop for this sporting event,” he said.
Bolsonaro, a coronavirus skeptic who was sanctioned Saturday by the state of Sao Paulo with $ 108 for not wearing a mask during a motorcycle rally with many of his fans, had insisted the Copa America should go ahead.
“There are interests created for the Copa America to become a reality,” sociologist Rodrigo Moreira of the Federal University of Fluminense told AFP news agency.
“The government wants to show that the country is ready to welcome it, when in fact it is not. I [organisers] they want to guarantee their benefits ”from television rights and sponsorship deals, Moreira said.
Epidemiologists, members of the parliamentary investigation into the coronavirus, as well as some players and coaches, had expressed concern about Brazil hosting the tournament.
Friday the country’s Supreme Court governed Copa America could go ahead, however, the judges ordered authorities to take additional security measures.
“Touch [state governors and mayors] establish appropriate health protocols and ensure that they are respected to prevent a “copavirus,” with new infections and the emergence of new variants, ”Judge Carmen Lucia wrote in her ruling.