Sheffield’s Crucible left snookered as World Championship is postponed

Barry Hearn wants to hold snooker tournaments behind closed doors but has been forced to postpone next month’s Betfred World Championship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Judd Trump (centre) celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2019 Betfred World Championship alongside Barry Hearn (right).

One of the biggest events on the British sporting calendar –televised live by the BBC over 17 days at the Crucible Theatre – the World Championship was due to take place in Sheffield from April 8 to May 4.

But the tournament has fallen victim to coronavirus and snooker chiefs hope to announce rescheduled dates in July or August.

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World Snooker chairman Hearn believes live sport on our television screens - even without fans in the venue - “can be an inspiration to people around the world.”

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.”

The qualifying rounds – which were due to run from April 8 to 15 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield – have also been postponed.

A World Snooker statement read: “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.”