Argentina is ready to host the Copa América, President Alberto Fernández has confirmed, despite the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 70,000 people in his country.
The tournament is due to kick off on June 13 even as the coronavirus is ravaging the continent and despite the delicate political situation in co-host Colombia, which is convulsed by anti-government protests.
"We were consulted and said yes. With all due care. This would be a Copa América for television, that must be said. Under those terms we would be willing to honour our commitment," Fernández said in a statement to television channel C5N Argentina on Sunday. "The rest depends on how everything evolves and what Colombia is also going to do."
Argentina is going through its worst phase since the pandemic began, passing 3.3 million infections this weekend with a total of 70,552 deaths.
"We agreed with CONMEBOL to hold the Copa América and we are going to do it with the applicable restrictions," Fernández said, referring to South American football's governing body.
Local football has been hit by Covid-19 too – 15 River Plate players had to be dropped at the last minute for Sunday's Superclásico against Boca Juniors for their Copa de la Liga Profesional tie after they tested positive for the coronavirus. The Millionario put in a good performance nevertheless, drawing 1-1, though they were defeated by their arch-rivals 4-2 on penalties.
CONMEBOL has started vaccinating footballers for the Copa América thanks to 50,000 doses donated by Chinese state pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
At the moment, matches will be played in the Argentine cities of Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Mendoza and Buenos Aires, and in Colombia's Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali and Bogotá.
The tournament's opening match will be played at River's Monumental stadium between Argentina and Chile on June 13.
The final is scheduled for July 10 at the Barranquilla Metropolitan Stadium in Colombia.