Copa America 2021: The premier South American football tournament’s fate still hangs in balance with Brazil’s top court to decide on Thursday whether the Copa America 2021 should be allowed to be played in Brazil amid surging COVID-19 cases.
The court has scheduled an emergency session on Thursday, three days before Brazil take on Venezuela in the opening match of the tournament at the Estádio Nacional de Brasília in the country’s capital. Brazil’s Chief Justice Luiz Fux on Tuesday scheduled the special session. He and 10 other justices will cast their votes electronically to decide the fate of Copa America 2021 in Brazil.
Justice Carmen Lucia said there is “exceptional urgency and relevance in the case, requiring a quick conclusion” as Brazil faces a third wave of COVID-19.
The case was brought by the Brazilian Socialist Party and a trade union of metalworkers as they argue that Brazil should not host international sporting events due to social distance requirements.
Copa America 2021: The Brazilian Socialist Party in its request told the court that “intense circulation of visitors in the national territory will obviously disseminate the COVID-19 virus in several States, as well as potentially allow entry of new variants.”
However, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is not one to pay heed. He is a staunch advocate of the country hosting the tournament after a last-minute request by South American football body CONMEBOL. During the course of the pandemic, he has spoken against social distancing policies and lockdown measures as he believes the economic impact will be deadlier than the virus which has already killed over 474,000 people in Brazil.
Copa America 2021: Furthermore, instead of a centralised venue, the Copa America 2021 will be played in three states in the country including densely populated Rio de Janeiro besides Brasilia. The matches will be hosted without any crowd presence.
“With no attendance in the stadiums, we will not have the risk of gatherings and bigger contagion. The risk for a person to contract COVID-19 will be the same with the matches on or without them. I am not saying there will be no risks, I am saying there is no additional risk,” Brazil’s health minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Tuesday, defending Brazil as host of Copa America.
Meanwhile, Brazilian players are not in favour of hosting matches in the country amid the pandemic with skipper Casemiro and coach Tite among the few to have voiced their opinion against it. The players are not expected to boycott but wear black armbands in protest during matches.