Mike DeWine

All Ohio high school sports can go forward this year, with an option for some fall sports like football to be delayed until the spring if schools wish, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — All Ohio high school sports can go forward this year, with an option for some fall sports like football to be delayed until the spring if schools wish, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

“Our order provides best guidance to play sports as safely as can be played in the era of COVID-19,” DeWine said.

The governor’s order prohibits spectators at events other than family members or individuals close to the athlete, with final decisions on those people left up to schools. Similar limits are in place for family members of marching bands and drill teams.

DeWine said his wish is that athletes playing sports stay focused on safety and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“I hope that the desire to have a season will inspire our young people, ours student athletes, 24/7 to be as careful as they can," the governor said.

Ohio’s daily reported case numbers have dropped in recent days, and are well below the seven-day average of slightly above 1,000 confirmed cases. However, the governor said rates are climbing now in several rural counties.

DeWine hinted last week that sports will go ahead with limited attendance and many decisions left up to parents, schools and local health departments.

High school sports' oversight body, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, also suggested last week that sports will go on.

DeWine's decision comes as practice is underway at some schools and suspended at others out of concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

Ohio’s largest district, Columbus, halted school sports and extracurricular activities as of Friday, citing the advice of local health officials and concerns about the continued spread of the coronavirus in the area.

Other districts, such as Upper Arlington in suburban Columbus, are allowing students in contact sports such as football to work out in small groups or “pods.”

Dozens of states nationwide have delayed fall sports, and at least 15 won’t play high school football this autumn, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

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