Argentina confirmed on Sunday that they would participate in the Copa America in neighboring Brazil, despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The country was originally supposed to host the continental showpiece along with Colombia, but a week ago the South American football board CONMEBOL moved the tournament to Brazil.
Argentina “confirms its participation in the Copa America, as evidenced by its sportsmanship throughout its history,” the country’s Football Association (AFA) said in a statement.
AFA released the statement in response to rumors that the country would withdraw from competition due to the severe coronavirus situation in Brazil, where more than 470,000 people have died from Covid-19 with 17 million infected out of a population of 212 million.
Argentina has also been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 80,000 deaths and nearly four million cases out of a population of 45 million.
AFA said it would provide all the “necessary tools to ensure the specific care” needed to comply with health protocols during the Copa.
Several players and coaches participating in the Copa have questioned whether it should go ahead.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said on Wednesday: “It is alarming and worrying. Brazil is not the best place.”
Chilean Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte described the decision to play the tournament in Brazil as “a huge, gigantic risk”.
The Argentina team was set to leave for Colombia on Sunday to play a World Cup qualifier.
They played 1-1 at home against Chile on Thursday and against Colombia on Tuesday in Barranquilla, where the Copa America final was originally scheduled to be played.
They are second in the single South American qualifying table, four points behind leader Brazil.
Stars Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero would travel with the squad, but not goalkeeper Franco Armani, who still has the corona virus.
The Copa America starts on Sunday with the new host country Brazil taking on Venezuela in Brasilia.
Argentina’s first game against Chile is in Rio de Janeiro the following day.