Copa America has no host: Argentina dropped due to COVID

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A woman wears a face mask with the colors of the Argentine flag colors during a protest against how the government of President Alberto Fernandez is handling of the new coronavirus pandemic crisis, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

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SAO PAULO (AP) — Copa America is without a host country only two weeks before kickoff after South American soccer body CONMEBOL ruled out Argentina amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.

The announcement Sunday night casts doubt on a tournament which has faced major hurdles since the start of the pandemic in March of last year.

CONMEBOL said on Twitter — and it was later confirmed by an official — that it was analyzing “the offer of other nations who showed interest in hosting the continental tournament,” without naming them. It also said a new host will be announced “soon.”

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Copa America is scheduled to be played between June 13 and July 10. South American teams are already training for the tournament and two rounds of World Cup qualifiers are starting this week.

Like other continental tournaments, Copa America was initially scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement. But difficulties mounted as the virus continued to strike the region hard and vaccine rollout remained slow.

Argentina is facing a surge of coronavirus infections, with strict lockdown measures imposed last weekend amid a seven-day average of 35,000 cases and 500 deaths. More than 77,000 people have died in the country due to the disease, as the virus continues to spread.

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