Venezuela drafted in 15 new players for their football team after coronavirus infections were recorded among players and staff a day ahead of their Copa America opening game against Brazil.
The Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) announced the replacement players in a statement on Saturday evening.
Among those who tested positive were eight players who were immediately isolated, it said.
The health department in Brasilia, where the opening match is due to take place, said earlier that the infected staff and players were asymptomatic and had been isolated.
It added that the South American football federation CONMEBOL had been informed.
Venezuela are scheduled to face hosts and defending champions Brazil, led by star player Neymar, in the Sunday opening of the prestigious tournament.
Venezuela had already said on Friday that captain Tomas Rincon did not travel to Brazil because he had flu symptoms.
The Venezuelan team’s coach Jose Peseiro said the absences had affected preparation.
“Tomorrow we will compete with 11 players who have never trained or played together,” he said.
The CONMEBOL on Friday changed the Copa America rules and removed the limit of five changes in the final squad due to the pandemic.
Four people from Bolivia’s delegation to the tournament have also tested positive —- three players and one coaching staff member, according to a statement from the Bolivian Football Federation.
Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said players would only be able to leave the country after a negative coronavirus test.
“There will be no coming and going of players. Players who test positive will remain in quarantine,” he said.
The Copa America was awarded to Brazil after Colombia was dropped due to political unrest, and Argentina was also removed as host due to a rise in the coronavirus infections.
The staging of the tournament in the country has been met with criticism from the population.
Brazil, which has a population of 210 million, has recorded more than 17 million coronavirus infections and around 486,000 deaths since the pandemic began.(dpa/NAN)