South American footballers will be given the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the Copa América that starts in June, the region's governing body chief Alejandro Domínguez said on Tuesday.
Sinovac will donate 50,000 vaccine doses to CONMEBOL, South American football's governing body, ahead of the June-July showpiece to be given to the men's and women's squads taking part in top level competitions.
"It's the best gift the South American footballing family could receive," said Dominguez in a statement on the CONMEBOL website.
The Copa América, like the European Championship, was due to take place last year but was postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia and Qatar had been invited to take part as guests but both pulled out due to the virus, leaving just the 10 CONMEBOL member federations.
The vaccinations will be completed before the tournament, co-hosted by Argentina and Colombia, starts on June 13, CONMEBOL sources told AFP.
Sinovac, which produces the CoronaVac jab, "understands that football is an essential activity for the economy, culture, and physical and mental health of South Americans," said Domínguez.
The CONMEBOL chief thanked Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou for helping to secure "this achievement that is unprecedented in world football."
Domínguez said the exact details of the immunisation effort would be ironed out in consultations with national associations.
"It's a huge step forwards to beat the pandemic, which in no way means we will let our guard down," he added.
Brazil are the reigning champions having triumphed on home soil in 2019, while Uruguay are the record 15-time winners.
CONMEBOL postponed two rounds of World Cup qualifiers last month because some major European clubs – where most top South American stars play – threatened not to release their players due to quarantine restrictions for people entering their countries.