Saturday, November 27, 2021

Criticism, jokes when Copa America moves to Brazil amid concerns over third Covid wave


BRAZIL: When Covid-19 overwhelmed Argentina too badly to host the South American football championship, officials decided to move the tournament to the pandemic-plagued Brazil from all places, with criticism from epidemiologists and a flurry of jokes.

Organizers, already forced to delay the Copa America by a year, are struggling to catch up with the world’s oldest international football match in a region still off Covid-19 and – in the case of original fellow host Colombia – violent unrest.

With its huge economy and wealth of stadiums from the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Brazil seemed in a way to a good solution at the last minute after officials on Sunday hosted the prospective host Argentina two weeks after the kicked off on June 13 pulled the stick.

But there is one notable problem with Monday’s announcement that Brazil will join: Covid-19 is destroying the country, where the death toll stands at more than 460,000, the second to the United States.

And experts warn that a third wave is coming.

“An event of this magnitude moves many people, even if the matches are held in empty stadiums. And moving people increases the spread of the virus. It will contribute to a new flare-up,” said Jose David. Urbaez, a specialist in infectious diseases, said. of Brasilia’s Pandemic Response Committee.

“The tournament should have been canceled completely,” he told AFP.

‘Championship of the Dead’ –
The news quickly became political in a Brazil deeply divided over the unorthodox pandemic reaction of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro fought lock-in fights, repelled face masks and refused the offers of vaccines, rather than ineffective drugs like chloroquine against Covid-19.

When the South American football confederation, Conmebol, thanked him for “opening his country’s doors” for the tournament, critics struck.

It will be the ‘championship of death’, said Senator Renan Calheiros, rapporteur for a Senate commission investigating allegations of criminal negligence in the government’s pandemic management.

‘Vaccine offers were sitting in the drawers of officials, but the tournament quickly recovered. Ridiculous, ‘he wrote on Twitter.

The deputy chairman of the commission of inquiry, opposition senator Randolfe Rodrigues, said the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Rogerio Caboclo, should be called to testify about “what security measures are planned to guarantee the Brazilians’ safety” during the tournament. .

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Another opposition lawmaker, Congressman Julio Delgado, vowed to go to the Supreme Court to block the tournament.

At least three governors in states listed as likely hosts of contests have already said they will refuse due to the health situation.

But Vice President Hamilton Mourao has argued that there are fewer risks to holding the tournament in Brazil than Argentina.

– Mascot: ‘Little Covid’ –

The football-mad Brazil mostly held matches without supporters, although a few hundred were allowed in January for the Copa Libertadores final in Rio de Janeiro.

The Copa America would be held in empty stadiums if Argentina and Colombia hosted. But speculation was rife that Conmebol would at least try to hold the final with fans in Brazil.

The Covid-19 curve in Brazil has recently declined, from a weekly average of more than 3,000 deaths per day in April to about 1,800 last week.

But the country remains one of those hardest hit. Experts say state and local officials lifted the restrictions too soon, with only 11 percent of Brazil’s 212 million people fully vaccinated.

They warn of increasing infections and the hospital occupancy indicates that a new boom is coming.

The Copa America is now ‘reckless’, said epidemiologist Pedro Hallal of the Federal University of Pelotas.

“Many other countries … have the pandemic much more under control. It is difficult to understand where this decision is coming from,” he said.

Social media quickly picked up a flood of jokes.

“Suggestions for the Copa America mascot? How about ‘Little Covid’?” said sports commentator Alexandre Lozetti on Twitter.

‘Little Chloroquine’ was also popular, as well as a proposal to name the tournament ‘Cepa America’ – the ‘America variant’.

“I do not think we should hold such a big sporting event here now. It is very risky,” said businessman Guilherme Beserra da Silva in Sao Paulo.

“It’s good for the economy, but Covid’s business is definitely going to increase. I like football, but I’m against it.”


Nation World News Desk
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