The reality, much like COVID-19, is hard to shake: The 105-year-old tournament was switched from Colombia and Argentina because of political unrest and the coronavirus, yet relocated to a politically fractured country with the second-worst death toll in the world and no end in sight.
As of June 5, Brazil has reported just under 17 million coronavirus cases, the third most in the world, and more than 470,000 deaths, second behind the US.
Just 10 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated and the day after Brazil was confirmed as host, it recorded 94,509 new cases, the country’s second-highest number on record.
It is fitting that the underused Estadio Mane Garrincha football stadium in Brasilia sits almost within sight of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s office.
In a little more than a week, the cavernous arena is scheduled to host the opening match of arguably the most contentious and politicised Copa America in the history of the world’s oldest international football tournament.
Whether it happens though, regardless of Bolsonaro’s obstinacy, remains to be seen.
Until late last month, the 10-team, month-long tournament was to be, for the first time, co-hosted by two countries: Colombia and Argentina.
The former’s plans were scrapped on May 20 due to civil unrest. Ten days later, with COVID cases in Argentina has risen 54 per cent, the country swapped its hosting rights for the unwelcome title of having the world’s fifth-worst coronavirus outbreak per capita.
Within 24 hours, COVID-ravaged Brazil was unveiled as the emergency solution. Here