Jun 3, 2021 - Sports

Copa América moves to Brazil, which faces its own COVID nightmare

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Brazil has stepped in to host this month's Copa América, but the issues that caused the former hosts to drop out are roughly as bad in Brazil.

The backdrop: The soccer tournament — originally set for last summer in Colombia and Argentina — was delayed a year by the pandemic. It's now scheduled to begin on June 13.

  • Colombia lost hosting privileges on May 20 amid mounting civil unrest, which stemmed from an April tax reform proposal.
  • Argentina followed suit on May 31 after its record-setting COVID spike led to the suspension of its domestic soccer season.

The state of play: Brazil, which hosted and won the 2019 Copa América, swooped in to save the tournament, which is second in prestige only to the World Cup for the soccer-mad countries involved.

  • Yes, but: Brazil is facing its own COVID nightmare (its 465,000 deaths trail only the United States' 595,000), plus widespread protests due to President Jair Bolsonaro's dismissive approach toward the pandemic.
  • In other words, Colombia's civil unrest and Argentina's COVID surge have been replaced by Brazil — which is suffering from both.
The brazil flag.
Demonstrators take part in a protest against Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic in Sao Paulo. Photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

By the numbers: In the past week, there have been 3.34 million new confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. India tops the list (34.4%), followed by Brazil (12.9%), Argentina (6.9%) and Colombia (4.8%).

Snapshot ... A sampling of vaccination rates and cases around the world.

  • South America: Brazil (11% fully vaccinated; 7,877 cases per 100,000 people); Colombia (6.5%; 6,819); Argentina (6.3%; 8,494).
  • North America: U.S. (41%; 10,144); Canada (5.8%; 3,705); Mexico (9.9%; 1,897)
  • Europe: U.K. (39%; 6,725); Italy (20%; 7,004); Germany (19%; 4,448)
  • Asia: Japan (2.9%; 596); India (3.2%; 2,072); South Korea (4.3%; 274)

The bottom line: Japan isn't the only country set to host an international sporting event this summer with COVID still raging among a mostly unvaccinated population.

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