The question can sound/look provocative, and I admit it, this title is deliberately “catching”, but the question is genuine, and the concerns behind it are as well.
A few days ago, the snooker World lost Brandon Parker. Brandon had been Shaun’s manager for many years, and they were close friends. Shaun was certainly deeply saddened by Brandon’s death. Brandon was living in Portugal in his final months/weeks/days. That’s were he was put to rest, and Shaun, obviously, wanted to be at his friend’s funerals to pay his respects.
Unless I misunderstood, the issue with this is that Portugal is one of the countries that has no agreed “airbridge” with the UK, meaning that anyone traveling to the UK from Portugal, is required to be quarantined for 14 days, and this in turn would mean that unless the usual format of the Crucible is “tweaked”, Shaun will not be in a position to play his first round match. The earliest he could possibly play would be on the 6th or 7th of August, well into the second round.
Now, I do know that Shaun now lives in Ireland, that Ireland may have different rules, and traveling from Ireland to the UK should not require quarantine. However, the potential risk that Shaun could bring the virus into the Crucible, after being in Portugal, is not lessened by the fact that he arrived in the UK via Ireland.
Now, this is by no way a dig at Shaun. He had the most honourable intentions, and probably, in his grieving state, didn’t even consider the possible implications of this trip.
My question is driven by concerns over the safety of the persons involved in the World Championship, the perception of other players and members of the public as well as the credibility of the sport. WST has worked incredibly hard to get events up and running under the current crisis. They have handled the situation remarkably well in Milton Keynes, without a crowd. As a result, hey have secured the right to run an event with a limited crowd as a pilot, something I, personally, still find very risky, considering the nature of the venue. Recently WST have prevented Sydney Wilson to compete in the World qualifiers, despite Syd testing negative to covid-19, because he had symptoms (Syd was eventually diagnosed with tosilitis). It’s hard to understand how they would allow a player returning from a country deemed as “dangerous” to compete, witouth completing the quarantine period, even if he stopped in a “safe” country on his way back. Unless, of course, strict measures were taken to make sure that Shaun’s travel was safe, and that the possiblity of an exposure to the infection kept as low as humanely possible. If such is the case, I believe that it would be good to make this information available in order to reassure Shaun’s fellow players, the officials, and the members of the public, that Shaun’s trip – otherwise completely justified – will not compromise anybody’s health nor the organisation of the World Championship.