The Copa America football tournament has been given the go-ahead to kick off in Brazil despite high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Brazil is hosting the competition after the withdrawal of Colombia and Argentina and the first game is due to be played on Sunday at the Mané Garrincha stadium in the capital, Brasilia.
Eleven justices in the Supreme Court voted unanimously for the 10-nation event to continue despite opposition from the Brazilian Socialist Party and unions.
President Jair Bolsonaro has staunchly supported Brazil hosting Copa America after the South American Football Confederation unexpectedly relocated the tournament when Colombia was dropped because of civil unrest and Argentina withdrew after a surge in coronavirus infections.
He has railed against shutdown measures aimed at preventing the virus’ spread and claimed their economic impact kills more than the virus.
But Brazil is still suffering one of the world’s highest daily COVID-19 infection rates, although the number of deaths has been declining for about two months from its record high.
Authorisation of the games is a decision made by officials in the state where they will be played; all four governors in Copa America locations are allies of Mr Bolsonaro.
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Justice Carmen Lucia said in her decision that it does not exempt authorities from adopting public health safety measures needed to prevent transmission of the virus that has killed almost half a million Brazilians.
The tournament will be played in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Goias, Mato Grosso and the country’s Federal District. Several other states rejected hosting matches of the tournament.
The final will take place on 10 July at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
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