Next month’s Betfred World Championship at the Crucible has been postponed.
The expected decision has been confirmed with an official announcement from World Snooker Tour due on Friday morning.
The 17-day tournament in Sheffield becomes the latest major sporting event to be cancelled, suspended or postponed.
And a tournament due to start on April 18 and preceded by a 128-player qualifying event from April 8 looked doomed as the coronavirus pandemic grew in the UK.
This week’s scheduled Tour Championship was first moved behind closed doors and then postponed until July after discussions with broadcasters ITV.
And world No1 Judd Trump, after a spectacular record-breaking season with six other titles, will not get to defend his debut success from last year.
It is understood that the decision was only between cancellation and postponement, with staging the blue-riband event behind closed doors considered unacceptable.
And it is hoped the tournament can now be staged in July or August – with uncertainty over other events such as the Olympics preventing a firm decision for now.
I very much doubt that it will be held as early as July or even August, given that the qualifiers must be held before it, with 128 players on 12 tables minimum, enough referees, fitters, TD staff plus the venue staff, cleaners, security, paramedics, catering … Even without audience that’s a lot of people.
The initialy inadequate and late response from the UK government is likely to eventually result in a longer lockdown period than if they had taken a stronger stance from the start, and there will probably be more casualties as well…
And if the World Championship is pushed further in the year, and the Q-school needs to happen too, the season will be over before it actually starts.
Snooker’s 2020 Betfred World Championship has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The qualifying rounds of snooker’s biggest event were due to run from April 8 to 15 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, followed by the final stages from April 18 to May 4 at the Crucible Theatre.
WST intends to host the final stages at the Crucible on rescheduled dates in July or August. This will be preceded by the qualifying rounds.
We are awaiting feedback from the BBC and our other principal broadcasters before dates are confirmed and we hope to make a further announcement in the coming days.
When new dates are confirmed, tickets for the final stages will be automatically transferred. All ticket holders will be contacted and the Crucible website and social media will be updated – we respectfully ask that ticket holders don’t contact the Crucible Box Office at this time.
Q School 2020, which was due to start on May 18, has also been postponed until after the completion of the Betfred World Championship.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “These are tough times for everyone but we are determined to get through it. Fans around the world – as well as the 144 players involved – are anxious to know if and when the World Championship will go ahead. I can assure everyone that we are doing all we can alongside our broadcasters, the venues and other partners to confirm new dates as soon as possible.
“Snooker players are self-employed, they need opportunities to earn prize money so we have a responsibility to them. We are currently exploring the potential to stage tournaments behind closed doors to keep the circuit alive, with more details to follow next week.
“Live televised coverage of the biggest sporting events can be an inspiration to people around the world in these challenging times so it is important that we strive to find solutions for our tournaments.”