Yesterday brought more news about the state of snooker and it’s not great.
Regarding players withdrawals there was this:
The man behind this tweet is Wayne Griffiths, son of Terry, and head coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. This tweet means that neither On Yee Ng, nor Andy Lee will be at the World Qualifiers, Ka Wai Cheung will not have the chance to try to earn his tour card in the Challenge Tour, despite making the play-offs. Although nothing is said about the Q-school, I would be surprised if any player training at the HKSI was at the Q-School.
And, clearly, it’s NOT their choice.
Why am I writing the above? Because there was a discussion between Neil Robertson and Mark Allen, both of them “agreeing” that ultimately if players miss out, they do so by personal choice, so should take the consequences.
Neil argued that he would dearly love see his family in Australia, and is missing them, but chose to stay in the UK in order to be able to compete in the World Championship. Allen added that the Chinese players could have made the same choice but decided to go home instead. The Chinese players who returned made a personal choice, so they have to accept the consequences. It’s not the first time that Neil compares his situation, past and present to the one of the Chinese players. That comparison is not entirely valid. Yes, Neil came to the UK as a teenager, without money and away from his family. It was hard, very hard, no question. But at least he spoke the language, and came from a culture that isn’t that different from the UK one. Those two factors alone make a big difference. As for his present situation, indeed, he decided to stay in the UK, and won’t see his parents and siblings this summer, but, at least, his partner and children are with him in the UK. Most married Chinese players live separated from their close family for most of the season. One Chinese player, who married last year, was left worrying for weeks during the worst of the pandemics as his pregnant wife was stuck in China. Given the chance, he went back home when he had the opportunity and it wasn’t an easy trip. He’s now back in China, the father of a newborn baby. He won’t come back for the qualifiers, and he will lose his tour card, a card he had a very good chance to keep actually. Given the covid-19 situation in the UK, coming back for the qualifiers, might have meant being unable to go back again to China for a long time, and, to an extend, putting himself at risk. You can say that it was his choice, but what kind of choice was that really? What would Neil do if he was put in the same situation? Would he stay in the UK? I very much doubt it, and I would be disappointed with him as a person if he did.
I’m not suggesting that the World Championship should be canceled, not at this stage, and there are contracts and sponsors to consider; they are important for the future, but simply stating “it’s their choice, they have to live with the consequences” is over-simplifying a complex and difficult situation.
WPBSA / EPSB Statement: 30th June
Further to our previous statements in respect of the re-opening of snooker clubs in the UK we can today provide a further update following guidance received from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Following the announcements made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK government on 23 June with regards to the relaxation of lockdown measures from 4 July, we have been urgently seeking clarity from the DCMS and the Sport’s Minister’s office as to their application to snooker clubs.
We have today (30 June) received further guidance from DCMS as follows:
“Licensed premises will be able to open from 4 July in their capacity as bars and restaurants but not for indoor sport use. Any opening will need to follow the government’s guidance for pubs, bars and restaurants.”
We understand that this guidance will come as a disappointment to clubs that had planned to open as snooker clubs from 4th July and together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Snooker we remain in dialogue with government to ensure that snooker facilities will be able to be used as soon as possible.
Well, that is exactly what I expected unfortunately, and it doesn’t make much sense to me either. So, people can gather around a table and get smashed, but can’t play a frame of snooker? I’m not sure I understand. It’s not as if snooker involves physical contact between players, or demands for huge physical efforts, getting players to breath deeply. According to an article I read recently about how the virus spreads, droplets from deep breathing are the biggest “vector” of propagation, and singing in a choir one of the most dangerous activities… Except for Dominic Dale maybe, snooker players are low risk beings in that respect, methinks.
Anyway, some players already decided to look at the positives, whatever the situation.