Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday, giving the go-ahead for the country to host the Copa America football tournament despite the coronavirus pandemic.
In an extraordinary virtual session,majority of the high court’s 11 justices agreed against plaintiffs who argued the South American championships posed an unacceptable health risk.
Justice Carmen Lucia in her ruling wrote: “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.”
The three cases before the court were the latest moment for organisers, who are determined to pull off this edition of the world’s oldest running international football tournament despite the obstacles.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has regularly defied expert advice on containing the pandemic, gave his blessing to host the tournament.
Also, Bolsonaro and the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL, insist the tournament will be safe.
However, Brazilian officials are requiring matches to be held without fans, including the July 10 final in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.
Teams will undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing every 48 hours while their movements will be restricted. They will travel to matches in the four host cities on chartered flights.
On the need to vaccinate all the players, the health ministry has backed down on Monday from plans to require all players, coaches and staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
According to Health Minister, Marcelo Queiroga, said it was too late to ensure immunity, and that post-vaccine side effects “could compromise players’ performance.”