Buenos Aires (AFP) – A large majority of people in Argentina, where football is like a religion, are against hosting the Copa America amid a deadly surge in the coronavirus pandemic, poll results said Friday.
The South American championship, already postponed from last year due to the outbreak, last week lost a co-host in Colombia which had its games stripped by the CONMEBOL federation amid social unrest that has claimed dozens of lives.
It left Argentina as the sole host, but a survey conducted by pollsters Poliarquia among a representative sample of 1,274 city-dwelling adults, found that 70 percent believe the country should withdraw.
Only 20 percent believed the championship should continue on Argentine soil, and 10 percent were undecided.
In recent days, CONMEBOL has been inspecting stadiums in Argentina to confirm they can host the 15 matches originally scheduled for Colombia.
On Thursday, the government in Buenos Aires said it was awaiting a response from CONMEBOL on whether it was “able to comply with the requirements that we are putting in place” to prevent virus spread.
The country, experiencing its worst phase yet of the outbreak, had submitted a “strict protocol” to the federation on Wednesday.
One of its demands is a reduction in the size of each team’s delegation.
Argentina, a country of 45 million people, is in the middle of a nine-day lockdown with just two weeks to go before the start of the tournament, which will happen without fans.
Health Minister Carla Vizzotti has said that welcoming 1,000 to 1,200 people from around the continent with strict health protocols in place would not be “epidemiologically very relevant.”
CONMEBOL has started to vaccinate players who will participate in the tournament, but with China’s CoronaVac jab, which has not been approved by Argentina’s health authorities.
Vizzotti has expressed concern that vaccinating people 15 days before the event is “not a solution”, and preventing infections must be the focus.
Argentina on Thursday reported a record 41,080 daily infections for a total exceeding 3.6 million, and 551 deaths in 24 hours to push the toll over 76,000.
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