Wed, 12 May 2021

BUENOS AIRES, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has urged the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) to exercise caution as it prepares to stage the Copa America amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tournament is due to begin on June 13 with a clash between Argentina and Chile at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, though Fernandez appeared to cast doubt over those plans.

"I don't want to frustrate the Copa America spectacle but I want us to be very sensible, very careful," Fernandez told Radio 10 on Thursday. "We still have time to see how things evolve and to see how we can overcome these problems."

Originally scheduled for 2020, the 47th edition of the Copa America - to be played in Argentina and Colombia - was postponed by a year because of the pandemic.

Argentina has been one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic, per capita, and Fernandez said local clubs were struggling to cope with outbreaks in their squads.

"All this worries me because I see objectively what's happening with Argentine teams," he said. "The cases are repeating themselves and they've not even traveled outside of the country. Leaving Argentina would make it worse."

CONMEBOL did not immediately respond to Fernandez's comments. Until now the Paraguay-based entity has been adamant that the tournament will proceed as planned.

On Tuesday, CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez announced that China's Sinovac Biotech would donate 50,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate players taking part in the Copa America and other South American football competitions.

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