President Iván Duque of Colombia spoiled the dreams of Conmebol — South American football’s governing body — to have fans at Copa America games in June and July. Ignoring the risks posed by the pandemic, Conmebol suggested that stadiums could function with 30 percent capacity and “health protocols fulfilled.”
Colombian health authorities, however, quickly shot down the plan. The country decided to ban all supporters from entering stadiums in Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali, and the capital, Bogotá — the four cities scheduled to host the tournament.
According to Sports Minister Ernesto Lucena, the country has been working “since last year” to hold a safe tournament “without any fans in the stands.”
Mr. Duque’s statement followed his Argentinian counterpart Alberto Fernández raising public concern regarding the Copa America, asking local authorities to be “very careful” due to the high rate of coronavirus infections in the region.
In an official statement, the Conmebol said that the 50,000-doses controversial shipment donated by Sinovac would “guarantee” a safe tournament since players and referees will be vaccinated – but it won’t be enough for the rest of Colombia.