Since the start of the Copa América tournament in Brazil on June 13, at least 140 positive Covid-19 cases have been detected among players, delegation members, and service providers, according to the country’s health ministry.
After the Copa América was relocated from its original host countries of Argentina and Colombia, Brazil was chosen to host the football tournament earlier this month, despite concerns about the country’s still uncontrolled spread of Covid-19. After the United States, Brazil has the second highest number of Covid-19 fatalities in the world, with 500,000 deaths recorded over the weekend.
Covid-19 has so far affected half of the national teams competing in the Copa América. In its most recent report, Venezuela, the hardest-hit team, had eight players infected. Personnel infected with the coronavirus can also be found in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. The Confederation of South American Football (CONMEBOL) does not disclose the number of cases per national team.
As the tournament got underway, Argentina’s Lionel Messi expressed concerns about contracting the virus while playing for his country.
“It worries us because it is a risk for everyone catching Covid,” he told reporters. “We try to be careful but it’s not easy. These things happen.”
“We’ll try to do all we can so no one gets it, but sometimes it doesn’t depend solely on ourselves.”
So far at the Copa América, 42 positive cases have been found among players and members of national teams, 97 cases have been found among service providers hired for the event, and one case has been found among CONMEBOL staff.
That’s a significant increase since the tournament’s last report on Covid-19. The health ministry reported 37 positive cases among players and delegation members last week, and 45 among tournament service providers.
Infections have been reported in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Cuiaba, and Goiania, the four host cities.