SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Eight Venezuela soccer players in Brazil for the Copa America have tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said on Saturday, a day before they meet the hosts in the tournament’s opening game.
The “members of the delegation include players and members of the backroom staff,” said a statement from the Health Secretariat in Brasilia, where Sunday’s game will take place.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) made the diagnosis on Friday and informed local health authorities.
“All are asymptomatic, isolated in individual rooms, and are being monitored by the CONMEBOL team and local health officials,” the statement added.
CONMEBOL said that in total 13 members of the Venezuela delegation tested positive. Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Quiroga put the number at 12.
Venezuela said it was 11 and announced it was calling up an additional 16 players to join the squad for the month-long tournament.
Venezuela are due to take on reigning champions Brazil on Sunday at the Mane Garrincha stadium.
The Copa America, the oldest tournament in international football and featuring 10 South American nations, was moved to Brazil at the last minute after Argentina pulled out because of a COVID-19 surge there.
Brazil agreed to host the tournament in spite of its own coronavirus issues. Some 484,235 people have died in Brazil, more than any country in the world bar the United States, with 2,216 reported dead on Friday.
The Copa America, South America’s equivalent of the European Championship, is due to run until July 10.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; writing by Andrew Downie;Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)