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Copa America soccer tournament has seen 41 positive coronavirus tests

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Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told reporters Monday that 41 people associated with the Copa America soccer tournament have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Sunday, the first day of games at South Americas top international soccer competition.

All 41 positive tests came in Brasilia, where the host nation defeated Venezuela, 3-0, on Sunday to open the tournament. Venezuela was without eight players and three coaches who tested positive for coronavirus upon their arrival in Brazil. Bolivia also had three players and one coach test positive before its 3-1 loss to Paraguay on Monday, and two members of Colombia's coaching staff tested positive before its 1-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

CONMEBOL, South America's governing body for soccer, has insisted that all matches move forward despite the depleted teams, which have had to call up members of their reserve teams to fill out their rosters.

The Brazilian health ministry said 31 of the positive tests came from players or coaches and 10 came from hotel workers hired for the event.

Brazil, which has seen the second-most deaths from covid in the world and has had less than 12 percent of its population fully vaccinated, stepped in to host the 10-team tournament only weeks ago after co-hosts Colombia and Argentina withdrew, the former because of civil unrest and the latter because of pandemic issues.

President Jair Bolsonaro's decision to bring the tournament to Brazil - a country that still is seeing about 2,000 pandemic deaths per day - has been met with protests from residents and players, and a number of sponsors have withdrawn their support. Bolonsaro's opponents say he made the decision to boost his sagging popularity in the soccer-mad country ahead of next year's presidential elections, but Brazil's leader promised that the tournament could go on safely with player movement restricted, constant testing and games played in empty stadiums.

Argentine soccer icon Lionel Messi, who is not believed to be vaccinated, said Sunday that he worried about catching coronavirus.

"It worries us because it is a risk for everyone catching covid-19," 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."

In April, the South American soccer federation reached a deal with a Chinese pharmaceutical company for 50,000 doses of its coronavirus vaccine, to be used for national team players, staff members and tournament officials.

Published : June 16, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Matt Bonesteel