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Lionel Messi says he will miss 2024 Paris Olympics in common move for soccer stars

Argentina soccer star Lionel Messi reportedly said he will not play the Olympics this summer after taking part in Copa America, which is a common decision for the best players in North and South America.

“I talked to (Argentina Olympic coach Javier) Mascherano, and the truth is we both understood the situation,” Messi said in a Spanish interview, according to ESPN. “It’s hard (to think about the Olympics right now) because we’re in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club (Inter Miami), and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.”

Messi, who turns 37 on June 24, and Argentina play in Copa America, the championship for North and South America, starting next Thursday. The tournament runs through a July 14 final.

The Paris Olympic men’s soccer competition begins July 24 and runs through an Aug. 9 final.

It is rare for players to take part in both a senior continental championship and the Olympics in the same summer.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament is for U23 teams with three over-age exceptions.

Club teams are required to release players for continental championships like Copa American and the European Championship, which starts Friday and runs to July 14.

Clubs are not required to release players for the Olympics. Clubs traditionally do not release players for the Olympics who are already playing continental championships that summer.

Messi won Olympic gold with Mascherano and Argentina in 2008, a year when there wasn’t a Copa America.

“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments (this year),” Messi said, according to ESPN. “I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with Masche. It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20, memories I’ll never forget.

“It’s spectacular to be fortunate enough to go through all that. I hope that the guys who get to go enjoy it in the same way that I did because it’s special. The Olympics are special, different from anything else.”

The U.S. is also playing in Copa America and not expected to send its top over-age players to the Olympics. The U.S. qualified a men’s soccer team for the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

Kylian Mbappe is playing for France at Euro 2024. He was not on a list of 25 candidates for the 18-player Olympic team announced last week, though Olympic coach Thierry Henry did not rule him out of completely.

Real Madrid would have to agree to make Mbappe eligible for Olympic selection.