Messi worried about contracting COVID-19 at Copa America

Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi says he's worried about contracting COVID-19 while in Brazil for the Copa America tournament.

Messi will participate in Argentina's opener against Chile on Monday in Rio de Janeiro amid a spike in cases among the tournament's other sides.

"It worries us because it is a risk for everyone catching COVID-19," Messi told reporters, according to Reuters.

"We try to be careful but it's not easy. These things happen," the 33-year-old talisman added.

It's understood that Messi has yet to receive the vaccine, according to Reuters, though the South American Football Confederation said in April that it acquired vaccinations for all participating players and staff ahead of the tournament.

Argentina and Colombia were initially slated to co-host the tournament before both nations pulled out. Argentina did so because of the ongoing pandemic, while hosting duties were stripped from Colombia on May 20 amid protests against President Ivan Duque.

The tournament was then shifted to Brazil despite the country's COVID-19 issues. Brazil's death toll due to the coronavirus is second only to the United States.

Eight Venezuelan players have returned positive tests since arriving in Brazil, while three members of Bolivia's team have also tested positive.

Despite the threat of COVID-19, Messi sees this Copa America tournament as an opportunity to wrestle continental bragging rights from Brazil, the defending champions.

"I think this is the time to strike a blow and the chance could come in this Copa America," Messi said. "My big dream is to win a title with the national team. I was very close on many occasions and unfortunately it didn't work out. I will keep going until I can't any more."

Though he's accomplished a lot individually and with Barcelona, Messi has yet to win a major tournament with Argentina, something the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is quick to note.

"I've been lucky enough to win everything at a club level and on an individual level and it would be beautiful to win with the national team as well," he said.

Messi worried about contracting COVID-19 at Copa America
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