Ronnie was interviewed by Hector Nunns. He explains that the Chinese players are longing to go back home and don’t trust the UK government over the way they handle the situation. He also explains why he started doing fist bumps.
Ronnie O’Sullivan warns Chinese players could snub UK over ‘crazy’ Boris Johnson
O’Sullivan says Chinese players ‘don’t feel safe’ in the UK amid coronavirus pandemic, telling him Prime Minister ‘doesn’t know what he’s doing’
Ronnie O’Sullivan fears snooker’s Chinese stars are set to black-ball the UK over the coronavirus.
The game’s superstar could have played his last match this season with the chances of next month’s World Championship taking place increasingly bleak.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan, 44, is a hero to many of the UK-based contingent from the Far East – where the outbreak started in Wuhan.
While China’s drastic lockdown, quarantine and travel measures were highly controversial, the number of new cases there has started to fall.
O’Sullivan said: “A lot of the Chinese players have gone back to China or are itching to go back – they don’t feel safe here.
(Image: Getty Images)
“I have been in contact with a lot of my Chinese friends out there to see how they are and they were on total lockdown.
“And I have had Chinese players say to me ‘Your prime minister doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s crazy’. I don’t know myself and can’t really comment, but this is what I am hearing.
“They have all got a bit scared and some have gone and others are desperate to, because that’s where they feel safe, and feel like their country is doing what it should be doing.
“And it’s hard to see how players like that will be playing in the World Championship.”
O’Sullivan was mocked in many quarters for refusing to shake hands with opponents and referees at tournaments on health grounds last year before the coronavirus outbreak.
But recent events have shown his actions in a different light, with such behaviour now very much the new norm.
He added: “People were all saying I was mad and this and that, but maybe you look now and think ‘he’s not so mad or crazy after all’.
“I have always been a bit OCD with germs, I don’t open door handles either and use hand tissues as well as starting doing the fist-bumps instead of handshakes last year.
“It was another player Jack Lisowski who got me thinking about that. He beat cancer as a teenager, and had to be very careful with his immune system compromised, avoiding picking up germs.
“I was always getting colds and so I started doing some of the things he was doing and haven’t really had a cold or germs since, so maybe there is something in it.”
Hector today on twitter was insisting that WST should take a decision very quicly regarding the World Championship and announce it now, so that the Chinese players can make their decision knowingly.
For the reasons I developped yesterday, the only sensible decision at this stage would be to cancel it completely.