WHO says Brazil should reconsider Copa America host role if it can’t manage risks

GENEVA (Reuters) – Top World Health Organization emergencies official Mike Ryan, when asked about Brazil hosting the Copa America soccer tournament, said on Monday that he would advise any country undertaking mass gathering be extremely careful to manage risks.

Otherwise, Ryan said, a host nation like Brazil should reconsider, in the interest of safety and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Argentina pulled out of hosting the tournament — due to run from June 13 to July 10 — as the pandemic there worsened, and Brazil stepped in as possible host, over objections from some officials investigating the nation’s pandemic response.

“We would advise that any country undertaking such a mass gathering, especially in the context of community transmission, be extremely careful about ensuring they have the proper risk management in place,” Ryan told reporters. “If that risk management cannot be guaranteed then certainly countries should reconsider their decisions to host or run any mass gathering.”

(Reporting by John Miller, Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge)