Sat, 08 May 2021

BOGOTA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Colombia will fulfill its commitment to co-host this year's Copa America despite surging coronavirus cases in the Andean country, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday.

The tournament - which will also feature matches in Argentina - is due to begin on June 13, having been postponed by a year because of the pandemic.

Colombia is scheduled to host fixtures in four cities, with the final earmarked for Barranquilla's Estadio Metropolitano on July 10.

"There is a very clear commitment from Colombia. We have said that we are prepared for the Copa America to be played in Colombia with all of the necessary biosafety guarantees," Duque said. "We will be hosting a group of five teams and we will be ready.

"It would be illogical if the national league and the Copa Libertadores could be played and yet five teams in a safe environment could not," he added.

The comments came less than a week after Argentine President Alberto Fernandez urged the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) to exercise caution in its planning for the event.

Argentina and Colombia have been hard hit by the virus and both countries are currently experiencing a third wave of infections.

"Bubbles are being planned in order to guarantee the protection of the players, the Colombian society, and also to make sure all of the fans are safe," Duque said.

This year's Copa America will be split into two groups with Colombia to host Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru in the so-called northern zone.

The southern zone will feature Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Last week, 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 this year.

Dominguez has expressed hope that fans will attend the continental tournament, having warned that it would not be economically viable otherwise.

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