Co-organizer of the 2021 Copa America with Argentina, Colombia wants to avoid at all costs a competition without an audience despite the Covid-19. Sports Minister Ernesto Lucena explained that he was working on a health protocol with a 30% filling level in the stadiums. The competition should have taken place in 2020 but had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A Copa America in front of empty stands? Very little for Colombia. The South American state announced Tuesday that it plans to reopen the stadiums to the public, with a gauge of 30% of spectators, for the 2021 edition that it is organizing with Argentina and which had been postponed the year last because of Covid-19.
A “Copa America without an audience would not make sense“Sports Minister Ernesto Lucena told Caracol Radio. In this perspective,”we are already working on the sanitary protocol to have a capacity of about 30%“, he added. The minister specified that the authorities could consider a higher gauge if the vaccination campaign progressed at a good pace and that the cases of coronavirus decreased.
This 47th edition of the Copa America, organized for the first time in two countries, is scheduled from June 11 to July 10. Colombia has eased health measures in recent weeks due to a decrease in cases and deaths from covid-19. But only 149,000 people have been vaccinated to date, out of the 35 million expected in 2021.
Since March 2020, the Colombian stadiums have been closed to the public. Bogota is due to host three matches in the group stage, as well as the match for third place. The decision to reopen the stadiums rests with the mayors. However, the number two of the municipality of the capital, Luis Ernesto Gomez, recently declared that Bogota must prepare for matches without an audience.
The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) announced in February that it was considering an organization allowing the presence of spectators. Options include selling tickets to people showing a negative PCR test or who have been vaccinated.
Asked about the possibility of Argentina withdrawing as co-organizer, Mr. Lucena assured that “Colombia are in full capacity to host the Copa America if they have to do so individually“. But he added that”received no message“from the Argentinian organizers.
The Copa America kicks off on June 11 with the opening match at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires and the final is scheduled for July 10 at the Metropolitano Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, on the Colombian Caribbean coast. The previous one was held in 2019 in Brazil, which won the final 3-1 against Peru. The most successful country is Uruguay with 15 wins, one more than Argentina.