The Timaru Herald

Eleven players return positive tests

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Copa America has yet to kick off, but 11 players have tested positive for Covid-19 upon arriving in Brazil.

Eight are Venezuelan­s and three Bolivians, football bodies of the two countries said yesterday.

Venezuela, who play the opener of the South American tournament today against the hosts, have summoned 15 new players for their squad. Three members of their coaching staff were also infected.

Their football federation said in a statement that all ‘‘are ready to join our group in Brazil later today’’. Those infected were not named.

Later the Bolivian Football Federation

said three players and one member of its coaching staff tested positive. It added all its infected personnel are in good health and isolated. Bolivia’s first match will be tomorrow against Paraguay.

South American football body Conmebol stressed in a statement that ‘‘the matches will be played as scheduled’’.

Brazil health minister Marcelo Queiroga said Venezuela players who had the virus would return only after they test negative. He said there’s no reason for the Brazil match not to take place today.

‘‘There will be no going and coming of players. Players who tested positive will quarantine,’’ Queiroga said. ‘‘If we had no possibilit­y of positive cases we wouldn’t need rigorous protocols. Venezuela is lucky that they will bring other athletes.’’

Venezuela were allowed to make vast squad changes because Conmebol changed the limit of five substituti­ons due to Covid-19 in the final list sent by teams.

Coach Jose Peseiro said his preparatio­n for the match had been affected.

‘‘Today we didn’t practice, we were isolated waiting for the tests. Tomorrow we will play with 11 who did not have the time to practise or play together,’’ he said. ‘‘I won’t have seven players I had in the match against Uruguay.’’

Venezuela had a 0-0 draw last week against Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier. – AP

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