Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against injunctions that sought to prevent the country from hosting the Copa America football tournament. The 10-nation South American event is set to kick off on Sunday, with no spectators allowed in the grounds.
In three cases, plaintiffs argued that the sporting event posed an unacceptable health risk amidst high coronavirus caseloads.
Two of the appeals were rejected by the court.
“It falls to [state governors and mayors] to set the appropriate health protocols and ensure they are respected in order to avoid a ‘Copavirus,’ with new infections and the emergence of new variants,” wrote Justice Carmen Lucia in her ruling.
On a third appeal, the court was still deliberating late on Thursday whether to dismiss the request, or to dismiss it on the condition that the government first submit to the court a “comprehensive” report of the precautions authorities would put in place to ensure safety.
Last-minute change of venues
The Copa America was initially planned to be held in eight stadiums in Argentina and Colombia. Those plans were scrapped due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Argentina and the anti-government unrest in Colombia.
But Brazil has also consistently struggled during the pandemic, which has claimed over 480,000 lives in the South American country, second only to the United States.
Epidemiologists, coaches and players from the countries participating have voiced alarm that the tournament could exacerbate the coronavirus crisis in Brazil.
However, President Jair Bolsonaro, who has a reputation for playing down expert advice on COVID-19, gave his blessing to host the Copa America.
With Brazil and Venezuela scheduled to open the tournament Sunday evening in Brasilia, fans will not be allowed to attend matches. COVID-19 testing would be mandatory for teams every 48 hours. Officials also said players’ movement would be restricted, and chartered flights would carry them to games in the four host cities.
The tournament was already delayed last year because of the pandemic.
see/msh (Reuters, AFP)