Crucible ready to welcome capacity crowd back for World Snooker Championship final

The sold-out signs ahead of the Betfred World Snooker Championship final offer the first glimpse of sporting normality in England.

A general view of the semi-final match between England's Kyren Wilson and England's Shaun Murphy during day 14 of the Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 at The Crucible (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

A capacity crowd will be allowed entry to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield tomorrow and Monday to witness the climax of 17 days of snooker, when the number of fans allowed in has slowly risen. Around 10,000 snooker fans will have attended the tournament over the duration.

Set against the backdrop of ‘behind-closed-doors’ sport over the last 11 months, the return of supporters in Sheffield – the Crucible is part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), aimed at the safe return of crowds – has been a welcome sight.

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Under the Government’s roadmap, if conditions are met, supporters will be allowed back on May 17 – 10,000 at large outdoor events, 1,000 indoors – before restrictions are lifted further on June 21.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden attending a semi-final match at The Crucible, Sheffield. (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was at the Crucible yesterday, and in an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, explained the important role the tournament has played.

“This a really important part of the Events Research Programme,” he said. “We have got one aim in mind; how do we get as many people back as possible by stage four, June 21.

“We have to do it in a safe way. What we are doing through the Events Research Programme is looking at different environments and what the risk factors are. At the Crucible over the course of the fortnight we have slowly ramped up the numbers. It started at 25 per cent, today it’s 75 per cent, and for the finals it will be 100 per cent. We are then looking at the spread risks, we test people before and after, we are looking at the ventilation, crowd behaviour, to see how we can do this in a safe way.

“One of the tragedies of the lockdowns is kids being stuck at home, not being able to exercise, not being able to have that mental and physical stimulation.

England's Stuart Bingham plays a shot (Picture: PA)

“If you watch sport you are more likely to participate in them, it inspires you.”

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