The World Snooker Tour has announced its intentions to complete the 2019/20 season – despite the ongoing postponements in the world of sport.
In a statement released on Friday, the WST said that “our intention is that our upcoming events will go ahead as planned.”
“This includes next week’s Tour Championship in Llandudno, and the World Championship in Sheffield.
“However, we must consider all scenarios and we will follow government advice. The health and safety of our fans, players, and staff is of course our priority.”
While appearing to send out a message of reassurance, the final caveat from the WST statement would seem to suggest that there’s no guarantee that the remaining events will go ahead at all.
As mass hysteria and a doomsday attitude continues to descend upon the world, the main stages of the Gibraltar Open got under way on Friday morning with defending champion Stuart Bingham among the early first round winners.
The likes of Neil Robertson, John Higgins, and Ali Carter decided to withdraw from the last event in the inaugural European Series, but world number one Judd Trump is in the field and chasing the £150,000 bonus on offer for topping the mini order of merit standings.
The Gibraltar Open is additionally the last counting event towards next week’s Tour Championship, in which the top eight players in the one-year list compete for another £150,000 champion’s cheque.
With the WST already cancelling the China Open, the action in Gibraltar is also the last opportunity for the majority of players to make their move in the rankings ahead of the World Championship in Sheffield.
Of course, whether these remaining competitions proceed as scheduled remains the question predominantly left unanswered – regardless of the WST’s attempts to quell fears.
Major organisations in other sports such as football, tennis, golf, and rugby have already taken the steps to make postponements or cancellations.
While the British government has, unlike others in Europe, not yet enforced any rules on the matter, it seems unusual to think that snooker will play the part of the rogue when other sports are opting for the cautious avenue.
does “as planned” mean with spectators, or does it just mean at the planned dates and venue but maybe without spectators?
— Monique (@MoniqueLimbos) March 13, 2020
In its favour is the fact that it’s a non-contact sport, but allowing an audience of hundreds to assemble on its watch seems like a risk not worth taking.
What many people are apparently failing to comprehend is that the coronavirus isn’t deadly to people who are otherwise healthy.
However, a great percentage of snooker’s audience at venues are the elderly, and it’s here where the risks become more heightened.
The Tour Championship isn’t set to commence until Tuesday, so a lot can and probably will happen between now and then.