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LATIN AMERICA | 26-04-2021 15:34

Bogotá bars football matches as virus stretches health system

Colombia's capital Bogotá on Monday barred two continental club football matches from taking place due to the city's health system teetering on the verge of collapse from the coronavirus pandemic.

Colombia's capital Bogotá on Monday barred two continental club football matches from taking place due to the city's health system teetering on the verge of collapse from the coronavirus pandemic.

Santa Fe were due to host Brazilians Fluminense in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday while La Equidad were meant to take on Venezuelans Aragua in the secondary Copa Sudamericana a day later.

But Bogotá's health system has been ravaged by a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping not just Colombia but South America as a whole.

The city's mayor's office has declared a code red that bans "sports activities, such as professional football tournaments," a spokesperson told AFP.

It comes just over a month and a half before Colombia is due to co-host the 2021 Copa América alongside Argentina.

Bogotá will host four matches, including the third-fourth place play-off.

Last week, Argentina President Alberto Fernández expressed his doubts that the tournament could go ahead.

Santa Fe, though, have not given up hope of playing their Libertadores match.

"The mayor's office is clinging to the decision to not play, they're worried about possible gatherings [of fans], but we will demand to play," the team's majority shareholder, Diego Perdomo, told El Tiempo newspaper.

At the end of 2020, Santa Fe played in the Colombian Primera A final against America de Cali and although fans were barred from the game, hoards gathered outside their El Campín stadium in Bogotá.

On Sunday, Bogotás intensive care units were at 91 percent capacity.

The city is under a nighttime curfew and total lockdown from Thursday to Monday. School classes have been suspended and there are restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

Colombia is one of the worst affected countries in the world by the pandemic having registered 2.7 million cases and more than 71,000 deaths amongst its 50 million population.

The Copa América begins on June 13 with the opening match in Buenos Aires, while the final is on July 10 in Barranquilla, Colombia.

– AFP

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