Fans to be allowed in some capacity at Maracanã to watch the Copa America final between Brazil and Argentina

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Officials in Rio de Janeiro have decided to allow thousands of COVID-19-tested fans into Saturday’s Copa America final at Maracanã Stadium between Brazil and Argentina.

Daniel Soranz, Rio de Janeiro’s health minister, issued recommendations on Friday permitting up to 10% crowding in each area of the 78,000-seat stadium. For the contest, there will be no tickets available.

According to CONMEBOL, each side will be allowed to invite 2,200 spectators to the final on Saturday night. In the stadium, visitors will be obliged to wear masks and maintain a two-meter separation between them. Food and beverages will not be permitted.

In the previous Copa America final in 2019, Brazil defeated Peru 3-1 in front of roughly 60,000 people at the Maracana.

The delayed 2020 Copa Libertadores final between Palmeiras and Santos drew roughly 5,000 fans to Maracana in January, but they were all packed in with little regard for social distancing norms.

In the rules, Soranz stated that the decision was made in response to a request from CONMEBOL, which stated that all spectators must have negative coronavirus testing in order to enter.

In a press conference, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes declared, “There will be a big space between individuals, and all the guests will be welcomed by CONMEBOL.”

After Colombia and Argentina were withdrawn as hosts due to political and health concerns, Brazil decided to host the Copa America only two weeks before the tournament began. However, while the country is grappling with the pandemic, Brazilians have shown little interest in the event. COVID-19 has resulted in 530,000 deaths, while latest estimates suggest that vaccine efforts are having an impact.

Thiago Silva, a Brazilian defender, applauded the inclusion of fans in the final, which is expected to bring more attention due to the teams’ rivalry.

“For 10% of the audience, there is a different background. It’s a source of motivation for individuals who haven’t had it before, as well as a return to a more regular setting,” Silva explained. “We recognize that it isn’t flawless, but it must unfold over time, as it has in Europe.”

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, is a staunch opponent of social discriminatory policies and is unlikely to attend Saturday’s final. He says that the economic consequences of the pandemic kill more people than the virus itself.

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