If you thought having a massive soccer tournament switched to a country governed by a corrupt dickhead in the span of less than two weeks was a really bad idea, well you can pat yourself on the back. You were right. Copa America has been everything we sadly thought it would be and it’s only three days old.
There have been 41 positive tests so far, for a tournament that started Sunday. Venezuela, which opened the tourney against Brazil in Brasilia, had to call in essentially a shadow squad upon arrival in Brazil on Friday, after they had 13 positive tests between players and coaching staff. They were underdogs anyway, but a squad stripped of some usual starters were chum for Brazil and lost, 3-0. Colombia have had a couple of staffers test positive. Peru has announced their fitness coach has also tested positive.
Perhaps most unfairly of all, 10 workers who are not affiliated with any team but worked as tournament staff in Brasilia, where they were exposed to the Venezuelan team that had an outbreak. This was the biggest fear of anyone, that those who didn’t really sign up for this were going to be put in a vulnerable and dangerous position anyway.
The tournament is not being held in a “bubble.” Most teams, aside from hosts Brazil, are based in their home country and then flying into Brazil for their games. Whether they’re bringing the virus with them, or are contracting it in Brazil and then bringing it back home, it’s a problem. And it’s a massive problem in Brazil, which recorded 85,000 new cases just yesterday. President Bolsonaro, the lovechild of Jabba The Hutt and Scrooge McDuck, has shown no inclination to do anything about it, not even enforce social distancing policies, saying that the economic shutdown would be more damaging to the country than the deaths caused by the virus. You can look for him to lead the ticket for the Republican Party in 2024.
We obviously won’t know for a few days what the full result of flying in and out of Brazil will be. But most of the countries on the continent are dealing with more new cases than they’ve seen in the past year. Chile had 7,000 new cases yesterday. Uruguay had 3,000. Argentina had 23,000. Colombia 26,000. Paraguay 2,500. Bolivia 3,000. The only countries that aren’t seeing a spike higher than they ever have are Peru and Paraguay.
It’s hard to see how this gets any better, especially when no one in charge seems to care, as long as the TV checks keep coming.