Coronavirus: Copa America postponed until 2021 due to outbreak

CONMEBOL announced on Tuesday that the Copa America has been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The tournament, which was due to take place in Argentina and Colombia from June 12 to July 12 this summer, has become the latest football event to be pushed back for health reasons.

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"This is an extraordinary measure for an unexpected situation and responds to the fundamental need to avoid the exponential evolution of the virus," said CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez.

Dominguez said the rescheduled tournament would be played between June 11 and July 11, 2021.

"It wasn't easy to take this decision, but we must safeguard at all times the health of our players and all those who form part of the big South American football family. Have no doubts that the oldest international tournament in the world will be back stronger than ever in 2021."

Football in South America has been affected by the coronavirus with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) suspending all national competitions until further notice.

FIFA also accepted CONMEBOL's request to suspend the beginning of World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of March due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

Brazil won the Copa America as the host nation last year, defeating Peru 3-1 in the final.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement that he has scheduled a conference call with the Bureau of the Council for Wednesday, at which he will suggest to accept the postponements of the Copa America and Euro 2020 until June/July of 2021, among other things, as well as to make a $10 million contribution to the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the world in recent months.

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, although researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon.

Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk. The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces.

The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.