Sports News

Governor opens Michigan for pro sports without fans

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opened up the state for pro sports on Thursday, but fans will not be allowed at venues with the threat of the coronavirus ongoing.

FILE PHOTO: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, after several dams breached, in downtown Midland, Michigan, U.S., May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

Whitmer said in a statement, “Good news, sports fans. We are now ready to gradually and safely allow professional sports to resume in Michigan. While this is an encouraging step in the reopening of our economy, it is critical for athletes to continue social distancing and taking precautions to stay safe.

“We want to keep our momentum going and keep moving forward, so it’s incumbent on everyone doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The executive order signed by Whitmer will first affect the Detroit Tigers, who are due to assemble by July 1 when Major League Baseball restarts training camps in teams’ home cities. Opening Day for baseball will be July 23 or July 24.

The Detroit Lions are due to begin training in Allen Park, Mich., on July 28.

Stipulations in the executive order include:

--Live audiences are banned from venues aside from staffers and media members.

--Activities must follow the protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

--When possible outside of sporting activities, people must remain 6 feet apart.

In terms of the possible return of fans, Whitmer’s office said in a statement, “While the governor understands the urgency to get back to cheering on our teams in-person, every step must be done with safety and public health in mind.”

Like many states, Michigan is seeing a recent increase in coronavirus cases. According to the Detroit Free Press, 353 cases were reported Thursday, a single-day high for June.

--Field Level Media