Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the country can host the Copa America, clearing the way for the troubled football tournament to begin in three days.
In an unprecedented virtual session, a majority of the high court’s 11 justices ruled against litigants who claimed the South American championships represented an intolerable health risk. Several judges, on the other hand, have directed the government to take further safety precautions.
“It falls to (state governors and mayors) to set the appropriate health protocols and ensure they are respected to avoid a ‘Copavirus,’ with new infections and the emergence of new variants,” wrote Justice Carmen Lucia in her ruling.
The Copa America, which had already been postponed by a year due to the epidemic, was on the verge of collapsing when original co-hosts Colombia and Argentina pulled out from hosting at the last minute due to violent anti-government protests in the former and a surge in Covid-19 cases in the latter. Brazil stepped in last week as emergency hosts for the 10-nation tournament as the clock ticked down to the event’s opening match on Sunday.
However, the decision is divisive because Brazil is also dealing with Covid-19. It has killed approximately 480,000 people in the country. According to Bolsonaro and CONMEBOL, the South American football association, the tournament will be safe.