Brazil is stepping in to stage this year’s Copa America, South American soccer’s national teams competition, after Argentina became the second country to lose hosting rights to the event.

The tournament was originally due to be staged in both Colombia and Argentina from 13 June to 10 July.

However, amid civil unrest in the country, Colombia was dropped as a co-host on 20 May, and Argentina was ruled out yesterday in light of a surge of coronavirus cases there.

At just 13 days notice, Conmebol, the South American soccer confederation, has now relocated the Copa America, already postponed from last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, to Brazil, which hosted and won the most recent edition, held in 2019.

The confederation cited the “present circumstances” for the decision to strip Argentina of co-hosting rights, with the country having recently imposed a new lockdown on the back of a seven-day average of 35,000 coronavirus cases and 500 deaths, which has taken the total number of lives lost to more than 77,000.

However, Brazil has itself been significantly impacted by the virus, with total cases exceeding 16 million and deaths approaching 460,000, and the government of president Jair Bolsonaro coming under heavy criticism for its handling of the health emergency.

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Venues for the 2021 Copa America are expected to be announced in due course.

In a statement on Twitter, the confederation said: “Conmebol thanks president Jair Bolsonaro and his team, and also the Brazilian soccer confederation (CBF) for opening the doors of this country for the safest sporting event in the world today. South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars."

Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez said it was a unanimous decision of the council to move the tournament to Brazil, and that Colombia and Argentina would have the opportunity to stage events in the future.

However, there is uncertainty over the likely venues, with many of Brazil’s main stadiums due to host domestic league matches over the coming weeks.

Given last year’s postponement and the commercial deals secured by Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant that holds exclusive global consulting and commercial sales rights to the Copa America in a 10-year deal running to 2028, Conmebol will have regarded cancellation as a last resort.

The 2019 edition generated $118 million in revenue.

This year’s Copa America will only involve the 10 Conmebol nations, split into two groups of five, with guests Australia and Qatar having already withdrawn in response to logistical and travel difficulties brought about by the pandemic.

The tournament is due to be televised in Brazil by commercial network SBT, which recently secured a deal to show at least 11 games on a free-to-air basis, and others via a pay-per-view service in partnership with Conmebol.

SBT last broadcast the tournament 32 years ago, and it has normally been shown in Brazil by commercial giant Globo.

By consolation, Globo last week concluded a deal for the rights to all remaining matches in the South American qualifying competition for the 2022 World Cup that it was not already due to show.

Starting with this week’s round of fixtures, all games will be shown on the free-to-air Globo channel or pay-TV outlet SporTV.

Globo already held the rights to the home matches of Brazil and Argentina in the qualifiers.

Mediapro, the Spanish media company, had put the rights to home fixtures of the other eight teams back on the market after a deal with new player TV Walter Abrahao was scrapped in March.

South America’s protracted qualifying campaign has been seriously disrupted by the pandemic, with only four of 18 rounds completed to date.