The Copa America has barely crossed match day one when problems have already started cropping up. By problems, there can only be one inference. Players, staff, and workers from the Copa America have started getting infected with COVID-19. Indeed, the Health Ministry of the country confirmed today that 52 have tested positive for the virus. 19 of those are workers who are based in Brasilia and Rio De Janeiro.
The number of COVID-19 cases recorded among people involved in the Copa America rose to 52 on Tuesday, an increase of 11 on two days previously, Brazil’s Health Ministry said. https://t.co/9MDaX1yCnM
— Reuters Sports (@ReutersSports) June 15, 2021
The remaining are all involved with national teams that are present at the tournament. The initial number of 41, posted yesterday, was changed following more affirmative results, and this marks a fresh blow to the whole situation as well as the stakeholders involved that have had to defend its actions quite a bit since the last month.
WARNING SIGNS IGNORED
CONMEBOL, organizers of Copa America, have had a nightmare finding a host for the tournament. Initially set to be hosted dually by Colombia and Argentina, the former was removed as antigovernmental protests spread across the nation while the latter chose to withdraw from hosting after its President extended lockdown measures in light of the increasing cases of COVID-19, due to which Brazil were forced to host Copa America 2021.
Estas son las sedes de la CONMEBOL #CopaAmérica 2021 🏟️
Estas são as sedes da CONMEBOL #CopaAmérica 2021 🏟️
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 2, 2021
That left CONMEBOL with around 10 days to find a new host nation and they went with…Brazil. South America’s biggest country was also the worst affected in the continent and its death rate from the virus was amongst the highest in the world. Still, that did not seem to matter to its president Jair Bolsonaro who has been a strong critic of social distancing measures and dangers posed by the virus.
For months, critics of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been calling for an investigation into his handling of the country's devastating Covid-19 crisis.
On Tuesday, it finally began. https://t.co/GQJBsGuZn3
— CNN (@CNN) May 5, 2021
All of this set off a mad scramble of logistical planning and bio-bubble plans in order to safely host the tournament, which was by this point already drawing a lot of flak for pressing on with its original timeline of matches. CONMEBOL had categorically stated that no postponement will be entertained and though other choices of hosts were mentioned, including the USA and Mexico, possible issues with vaccine passports and quarantine plans put paid to those plans. With criticism at its peak and an indomitable, even the most hopeful among the lot knew that it will take a lot for things to go without a hitch.
DOOMED FROM THE START
Things went sideways almost immediately. Venezuela, who were set to feature in the competition’s first match against Brazil, reported a dozen positive cases in their camp. That forced them to call up 14 players to link up with the national squad. This came a day after three Bolivian players had tested positive along with a staff member.
AHORA | Por este reproche de Marcelo Martins en su Instagram a la Conmebol, ésta abrirá un proceso disciplinario contra el delantero de la selección Boliviana de Fútbol. pic.twitter.com/IWY9Wb0sMn
— Jorge A Saucedo (@JorgeSaucedo650) June 15, 2021
Captain Marcelo Martins blasted CONMEBOL for having no disregard for players’ health and safety, which echoed similar sentiments expressed by Brazil’s Casemiro and other players participating in the Copa America as COVID has gripped South America. With only four matches having played, there is no doubt that more CVOID cases are to be expected soon over the course of the Copa America.
SET TO CONTINUE?
For now, there seems to be no change in plan with regards to the playing of matches. Knowing CONMEBOL and their defiant stance, it will be no surprise if they actually do want to push through the ever rising cases in Brazil. Even the pulling out of sponsors like Diageo, Mastercard, and Ambev has had little effect on their plans. Qatar and Australia, two nations who were initially invited also left due to health concerns, which in hindsight seem a really wise decision now. With no signs of the pandemic abating as of now, the concerns of more individuals being affected with the virus leading to more chaos and outcry is just around the corner.