The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the country could host the America’s Cup despite a Coronavirus Pandemic, clearing the way for a three-day Troubled football tournament. In an extraordinary virtual session, most of the 11 judges of the high court ruled against the plaintiffs who argued that the South American Championships posed an unacceptable health risk. Different judges, however, ordered the government to take additional security measures. “(State governors and mayors) are responsible for establishing and ensuring that appropriate health protocols are in place to prevent“ copavirus ”from new infections and the appearance of new variants,” Judge Carmen Lucia wrote in her ruling.
The three cases before the court were the last, and perhaps the last, of the organizers who appear determined to take out this edition of the world’s oldest international football tournament despite obstacles.
Due to the pandemic, delayed by 12 months, the Copa America was almost disbanded when the original hosts from Colombia and Argentina fell at the last minute – the first due to violent protests against the government, the second due to a rise in Covid – 19 cases.
Along with the clock starting this Sunday’s match, Brazil entered the emergency zone last week for the 10-Nation tournament.
But the decision is hugely debatable: Brazil is also fighting Covid-19, which has killed nearly 480,000 lives in the country, making it only second in the United States.
Fears of increasing Covid
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has regularly challenged the advice of experts to sustain the pandemic, gave his blessing to organize the tournament.
He has welcomed the court’s decision, and Brazil is expected to “massacre” Venezuela in the opening match.
But epidemiologists have warned that Brazil has a new case and say organizing a major international sporting event could fuel the fire.
“It can’t describe the madness of trying to make an event of this size here,” Jose David Urbaez, an infectious disease specialist, told AFP.
The Supreme Court’s demands were presented by the National Union of Metal Workers, the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Workers ’Party (PT), which is likely to oppose Bolsonaro’s presidential election next year.
They argued that the tournament was in danger of exacerbating the health crisis and would “violate fundamental rights to life and health”.
Bolsonaro and the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, have stressed that the tournament will be safe.
Brazilian officials are demanding that the match be played without fans, including the July 10 final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Teams will perform mandatory Covid-19 tests every 48 hours. Movements will be limited, and on chartered flights they will attend matches in cities with four hosts.
However, the health ministry withdrew on Monday from plans to require all players, coaches and staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Health Minister Marcelo Queiro said it was too late to guarantee immunity, and that post-vaccine side effects could “jeopardize players’ performance”.
Players, happy sponsor
The organizers have a lot of reactions.
Two main sponsors, Mastercard and Giant Ambev Beer, said they were pulling their marks out of the tournament on Wednesday.
A third, the alcoholic beverage company Diageo, continued Thursday.
The event has been criticized by many players and coaches, including Uruguayan Luis Suarez, Argentine Sergio “Kun” Aguero and the entire Brazilian national team.
Neymar and the team – as well as the Brazilian coach, Tite – were reportedly caught unawares by the news that their country would receive, and it was rumored that they would boycott.
In the end they stopped that, but the criticism of CONMEBOL was vague.
“We are against organizing the America’s Cup,” they said in a joint statement Tuesday.
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