Brazil's Chief Justice Luiz Fux has called together the full 11-member Supreme Federal Court to decide whether or not block the country hosting the Copa América ©Getty Images

Brazil's Supreme Federal Court could force the cancellation of Copa América, which was controversially moved there at the last moment from neighbouring Argentina.

The country’s Chief Justice Luiz Fux announced that, given the "exceptional nature of the case," he had decided to have the full 11-member Court take up the matter in an extraordinary virtual session tomorrow.

The 10-nation tournament is scheduled to kickoff Sunday (June 13) with the tournament concluding with the final on July 10.

Original co-hosts Argentina and Colombia fell through over a COVID-19 surge in the former and violent anti-Government protests in the latter.

Brazil had stepped in last week as an emergency host, after the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) pulled the plug on Argentina, where there have been more than four million cases of coronavirus and over 82,000 deaths.

But the choice of Brazil provoked fury as it has been hit even worse by the pandemic with 17 million cases and 477,000 deaths, second only to the United States.

The tournament has become a divisive, politically-loaded matter in the country.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has regularly defied expert advice on containing the pandemic, gave his blessing to host the Copa América after the Brazilian Football Association offered itself as host.

But epidemiologists have voiced alarm, as have some coaches and players from the 10 countries participating.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has backed plans to host the Copa América in his country, adding to allegations that he has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has backed plans to host the Copa América in his country, adding to allegations that he has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

The cases the Supreme Federal Court have agreed to hear were brought by the National Metalworkers' Union and by opposition Congressman Julio Delgado and his Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB).

The union argues that hosting the tournament "risks causing an increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths," the Court said in a statement announcing it had agreed to hear the cases.

Delgado and the PSB argue that hosting "violates the fundamental rights to life and health," it said.

Several other requests to block the tournament were also filed in various courts, including another to the Supreme Federal Court by the left-wing Workers' Party (PT) of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is expected to be Bolsonaro's likely opponent in Presidential elections next year.

Originally scheduled for 2020, the Copa América was already delayed by 12 months because of the pandemic.

Brazilian officials have said matches will be held without fans, with mandatory COVID-19 testing for teams every 48 hours, restrictions on their movement and chartered flights to carry them between matches.

Even Brazil’s team are against the tournament taking place in their own country, although they have dropped the threat of boycotting the event.

Brazil are due to launch the tournament against Venezuela on Sunday in the capital Brasília, one of four cities staging matches along with Cuiabá, Goiânia and Rio de Janeiro.

It will be the sixth time Brazil has hosted the world’s oldest continental football championship, including in 2019 when they beat Peru 3-1 in the final.