Diageo, the international drinks giant that is a sponsor of the Copa America, South American soccer’s national teams competition, has joined other brands in withdrawing from this year's tournament after it was relocated to Brazil.
The company said it has shelved its involvement due to the “Brazilian health situation and out of respect for this moment of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Conmebol, the South American confederation, made the late decision to move the 2021 Copa America from Colombia and Argentina to Brazil, despite the fact that the latter country has been one of the countries most affected by coronavirus.
However, efforts in Brazil to prevent the tournament going ahead appear to have been unsuccessful, with injunctions rejected by the Supreme Court.
The Copa America is set to kick off on Sunday, and run to 10 July.
Diageo said it was withdrawing as its deal was agreed when the Copa America was due be staged in Colombia and Argentina.
Other Copa America sponsors Mastercard, the international credit card giant, and Ambev, the international brewing giant, have already said they will not have a presence at the tournament in Brazil.
Mastercard told Reuters it had decided not to “activate” its deal for the tournament, while Ambev said that “its brand will not be present at the Copa America".
Conmebol dropped Colombia as a co-host amid civil unrest in the country, and Argentina due to a surge of coronavirus cases there.
However, Brazil itself has been significantly impacted by the virus, with total cases exceeding 16 million and almost half a million deaths. The Brazilian government led by president Jair Bolsonaro has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the health emergency.
However, the Supreme Court has rejected two out of three injunctions aimed at preventing the Copa America being held in Brazil, and is also expected to oppose the third.
Nonetheless, Justice Carmen Lucia said her decision does not mean that health and safety measures should be ignored.