Pritzker suspends Illinois youth and adult contact sports for upcoming school year

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday new restrictions on youth and adult recreation sports statewide for the upcoming school year due to coronavirus.

Football and basketball are suspended, except for no-contact practices.

Starting August 15, only “low-risk” sports like tennis, baseball and golf will be allowed to engage in competitive play, although it will be limited to games inside their conference or region outlined in the “Restore Illinois” plan. State or league championships will be allowed for low-risk sports.

Sports which are considered “medium-risk” like basketball and soccer will be limited to inter-team scrimmages only. “High-risk” sports like football will be limited to no-contact practices and training only.

“This virus is unrelenting, and it spreads so easily that no amount of restriction seems to keep it off the playing field or out of the locker room,” Pritzker said. “Therefore today, my administration is releasing new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational organized sports in Illinois. That includes school based sports such as those governing governed by the IHSA and IES, travel clubs, private leagues, recreational leagues and sports centers and Park District sports programs, just to name a few.”

“There are certain sports whose seasons can move forward with more limited restrictions. Tennis and baseball as examples simply don’t carry the higher risk inherent in contact sports like wrestling and football. That differentiation is reflected in these guidelines which categorize each sport into three overarching risk levels, lower, medium, and higher,” the governor said.

The newly released guidance categorizes sports into three risk levels, low, medium, or high, based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play.

The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions. In level 1, only no-contact practices are allowed and they must be outside.

In level 2, indoor and outdoor practices and intra-team scrimmages are allowed but there can be no competitive play.

In level 3 intra-conference, intra-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only.

In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference play, and out-of-state play are allowed. State championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

Beginning Saturday August 15th, low risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3.

Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and high-risk sports can be played at level 1.

“I know our hearts break when we hear the word restrictions, especially when it comes to our children’s love for their sports, whether this year is their first time on the court, or it’s their senior year season,” Pritzker added.

The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday it would be moving the 2020 high school football season back to Spring 2021, and revised the schedules of other sports after Gov. JB Pritzker announced new restrictions on youth sports.

“Daily physical activity is an important part of staying healthy,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many of our activities, including sports. Some sports carry an inherently higher risk of exposure because of direct contact, like football and wrestling, while others have a lower risk, like golf and bowling. As we learn to coexist with COVID-19, we must be smart and measured in how we go about it. We want to encourage people to be physically active, but to be safe and understand the risks that come with certain activities.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced 1,393 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 18 additional confirmed deaths.

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