By Matt Christopherson

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – The Michigan High School Athletic Association cleared low-risk sports on Wednesday, allowing golf, tennis and cross country to complete, but is holding off on allowing football, volleyball and soccer games to start.

MHSAA said they would decide by August 20 for those contact sports depending on how the spread of COVID-19 is going in the state of Michigan.

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Practice can start on August 12 for all sports except football, which must wait until August 17.

The council voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports and limited the number of teams that can compete in regular-season tournaments, invitationals, and other multi-team events.

Indoor sports like girls, volleyball, swimming, and diving will depend on Governor Whitmer’s ban on indoor sports facilities. Practices can begin outdoors, if possible.

It was not immediately clear how high school sports may be affected by the governor’s order that participants in much of the state — those regions in phase four of her economic reopening plan — keep at least 6 feet apart “at all times” during such activities. MHSAA officials said they had been keeping Whitmer’s office updated and noted that under her separate road map for opening schools, athletics are allowed in both phases four and five.

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Phasing in competition is designed to deter the spread of the virus, the MHSAA said. The governor’s orders will limit the number of spectators.

Executive director Mark Uyl said offseason training was a positive for athletes this summer, and it is “of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward. If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety.”

He said the association would make “wise decisions based on medical guidance,” and the “easy way out” would have been to postpone sports until next spring.

“If we don’t play this fall, it won’t be because we didn’t make every effort to do so,” Uyl said.

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Matt Christopherson