Michigan Athletes Ask to Lift Two-Week Sports Shutdown Amid COVID-19 Issues

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A group of Michigan athletes has asked to continue playing after the university's athletics were shut down for two weeks amid COVID-19 issues.

The Coalition of Student-Athletes released a statement requesting for the suspension to be lifted and considered on a team by team basis. Under an order from the state health department, the suspension started on Sunday after multiple athletes on several Michigan teams tested positive for the new B.1.1.7 COVID1-19 variant.

"While we, the student-athletes at the University of Michigan, understand the severity of the virus and take it very seriously, we believe that this mandate from the [Michigan Department of Health and Human Services] is unnecessary and should not only be reconsidered but overturned," the coalition's statement read.

"Placing the entirety of student-athletes in a mandated quarantine, instead of working it on a team by team basis, is unfair to the athletes who have followed all protocols necessary to compete and have no contact with the confirmed cases. ...We believe that it is simply illogical to mandate a quarantine for the students-athletes given that at this point there are no extra recommended mitigation strategies outside of what athletes have already been in compliance with (masking up, social distancing, inner bubbles, etc.)."

A Change.org petition has also been posted, showing the coalition's statement and asking to help end the two-week suspension. The petition had over 1,100 signatures at the time of publication. 

The Michigan Daily reported over the weekend that there were five confirmed cases of the new variant on Michigan athletic teams and 15 more presumed positives throughout the athletic department. The strain is believed to stem from a Michigan athlete who recently traveled to the United Kingdom at the beginning of the semester. 

The B.1.1.7 strain is believed to have originated in the U.K. and is more contagious than the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC. This new variant is projected to be the most common strain in the U.S. by March and has already been detected in 12 different states.

Michigan will return to scheduled athletics on Feb. 6 if there are no setbacks. The men's basketball team, currently leading the Big Ten, and the women's basketball team, currently in third in the conference, will each have to reschedule or cancel four games.