Bogota, May 20 (EFE).- Colombia, one of the two countries hosting the 2021 Copa America competition, will ask the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) to postpone the tourney until the Covid-10 pandemic has eased to the point where fans can be allowed in stadiums, the sports minister said Thursday.
Ernesto Lucena announced the move after a meeting with President Ivan Duque.
While none of the Conmebol member-states, including Copa America co-host Argentina, can claim to have the pandemic under control, the Colombian government is contending not just with the coronavirus, but with a wave of civil unrest that has seen 42 people killed since April 28.
Already postponed a year because of Covid-19, the Copa America was scheduled to be played from June 13-July 10.
“The most important thing in an event of this magnitude is the attendance of the public,” Lucena said, revealing that he had already broached the idea of a postponement with Conmebol chief Alejandro Dominguez.
“On that basis we ask for Colombia and Argentina that time is given for us to be able to hold this event in the best way possible with fans in the stadiums, who ultimately are the ones who give life and color to the Copa America,” the sports minister said.
When asked by a reporter about the ongoing protests against Duque’s government, Lucena did not say whether the popular mobilization played a role in Colombia’s bid to postpone the tournament.
The minister was clear that Colombia had not discussed the matter with the Argentine government.
Colombia continues to struggle with the third wave of Covid-19 and health authorities reported 490 additional deaths and 16,086 new cases on Thursday.
Coronavirus has claimed more than 83,000 lives in the Andean nation and confirmed infections stand at 3.17 million, according to the Health Ministry.
Intensive care units in Bogota hospitals have been at more than 94 percent capacity for the last several weeks. EFE