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June 13, 2021

Ahead of the first match in the South American soccer tournament Copa America, 12 players on the Venezuelan national team have tested positive for Covid-19, Agence France-Presse reported Saturday, the latest complication in a tournament that has been relocated to Brazil due to problems in the original host countries of Colombia and Argentina.

Twelve members among the players and coaches of the Venezuelan national soccer team tested positive for Covid-19, Brazilian health officials said after the team arrived Friday night for the Copa America, South America’s soccer championship tournament, according to the AFP report.


The players and staff who tested positive are isolating in hotel rooms.

Venezuela is scheduled to play Brazil in the opening match of the tournament Sunday, which was relocated to Brazil from Argentina and Colombia due to the high Covid-19 infection rate in the former and social unrest in the latter.

Six in 10 Brazilians opposed President Jair Bolsonaro’s offer to move the tournament to their country, one of the worst-hit by the pandemic, averaging 1,800 new deaths from the virus a day.

Fewer than 1% of people in Venezuela, an economically devastated country of 30 million, have been fully vaccinated, according to Our World In Data. The country has struggled to get vaccines: Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Thursday that U.S. sanctions targeting its authoritarian government had blocked it from paying for vaccines through the COVAX program, while the country’s Academy of Medicine said in May it would take a decade to fully vaccinate the population at the current pace, according to Reuters reports. Venezuela’s rolling seven-day average of daily Covid-19 cases more than quadrupled since the beginning of the year, and nearly 2,800 people have died from the disease, according to the official data, although the Wall Street Journal reports that experts say this is a vast undercount. 

Source: Forbes