Copa America: More COVID-19 cases emerge as four of 10 teams hit

The Bolivian and Chilean football teams announced more positive COVID-19 tests among players or staff, meaning four out of 10 competing teams have been hit only days into the Copa America.

Empty stands for the contest at Estadio Olímpico Nilton Santos for the contest between Brazil and Peru in Copa America, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. - GETTY IMAGES

The Bolivian and Chilean football teams announced more positive COVID-19 tests among players or staff on Thursday, meaning four out of 10 competing teams have been hit only days into the Copa America.

Venezuela and Colombia had already suffered positive cases in the June 13-July 10 South American tournament being held in Brazil, one of the world's worst-affected nations.

Chile said a delegation member who tested positive was asymptomatic and isolating, but the team did not specify whether it was a player or official.

Chile drew its first game 1-1 with Argentina and faces Bolivia in its second match on Friday.

Bolivia, which lost its opening game 3-1 to Paraguay on Monday, said two players - Oscar Ribera and Jaume Cuellar - tested positive. It had previously seen three other players, one of whom was talismanic striker Marcelo Martins, test positive.

Martins launched a tirade against the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), accusing it of organising the tournament for financial reasons without care for players.

ALSO READ - Colombia draws 0-0 with Venezuela

He apologised after it began disciplinary proceedings, but other players have also expressed anxiety over the health risk.

Brazil agreed to host the Copa with only two weeks' notice after co-host Colombia was removed due to civil unrest and Argentina pulled out because of a COVID-19 surge there.

CONMEBOL said the 2021 Copa America would be "the safest sporting event in the world" when it announced Brazil as host.

That brought widespread derision around social media, however, given Brazil's desperate situation. In latest data from Brazil, another 2,997 people were reported dead on Wednesday, bringing total fatalities to 493,693, more than anywhere outside the United States.

Venezuela has been the worst-affected team, forced to call up another 15 players after eight tested positive on the eve of the competition. It lost its opener to Brazil 3-0.

Copa America's COVID-19 cases increase to 66

Brazil's health ministry said that 66 people connected with the Copa America had contracted COVID-19, an increase of 13 infections from the previous day.

The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that 6,521 tests were conducted, with 27 players and staffers of the 10 tournament teams infected plus 39 workers.

- AP

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