The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has switched the upcoming Copa América to Brazil after stripping Argentina of the hosting rights for the tournament.

CONMEBOL said that the decision had been taken due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in Argentina, which was originally supposed to co-host the competition with Colombia.

Just days ago, Colombia lost its hosting rights due to civil unrest in the country, with widespread protests taking place against President Iván Duque.

The event itself was postponed to this year from 2020 due to the pandemic, and CONMEBOL said last month that it was not an option to move the tournament to later this year. The tournament is due to run from June 13 to July 10.

Strict lockdown measures were imposed in Argentina late last month amid a seven-day average of 35,000 COVID-19 cases and 500 deaths.

However, the selection of Brazil as the new host has raised eyebrows. Officially, the country has suffered more deaths due to COVID-19 than anywhere else, apart from the US, with 460,000 people having succumbed to the virus, and there are fears that a third wave may arrive by the end of this month.

Brazil won the most recent edition of the competition in 2019, again as the host country.

“CONMEBOL thanks President Jair Bolsonaro and his team, and also the Brazilian soccer confederation for opening the doors of this country for the safest sporting event in the world today. South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars,” CONMEBOL said.

At the time of writing, CONMEBOL had not confirmed the host cities or stadia for the event.

Image: Brazilian Government/CC BY 3.0 BR/Edited for size