The chances of the 2020 World Snooker Championship going ahead as scheduled look increasingly slim after two separate announcements were made on Monday in the UK.
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson first advised against mass gatherings, which subsequently led to the UK Theatre group closing all of its doors with immediate effect – including, of course, the Crucible Theatre.
The 2020 World Championship is due to take place between April 18th and May 4th at the famous venue, which has staged the sport’s blue-riband tournament every year since 1977.
The Crucible Theatre released a statement on Tuesday, indicating that it might still be able to reopen in time for the sport’s flagship event.
“Following the recommendation from the UK government, we will be closing to the public with immediate effect,” the statement read on Twitter.
“All current performances have been cancelled and we will be cancelling future performances through to Sun 5 April.”
“Our team are extremely busy at this challenging time. We ask that anyone with tickets for forthcoming shows bears with us – we will be in touch with you to arrange a refund in due course.
“For performances from Sun 5 April onwards, we will continue to review and follow recommendations from the relevant authorities and will keep in touch with ticket holders.
“There is no further news on World Snooker at this time. We continue to liaise with the team at World Snooker and will provide an update on plans for this year’s tournament as soon as it is available.
“We appreciate that these are worrying times and thank you for your understanding as we continue to follow all available advice. We are sorry for any disappointment our closure will cause, we are committed to helping people stay safe. Please look after yourselves and each other.”
Despite the prospect of the Crucible reopening its doors in a few weeks, it’s becoming an increasing possibility that the World Snooker Tour will have to eventually take what seems like the inevitable step to either postpone or cancel the World Championship.
The problem isn’t only with the event itself, which lasts for a fortnight making it one of the lengthiest programmes in all sport.
The World Championship qualifiers must also first take place between April 8th and 15th at the English Institute of Sport.
This will include more than 100 players in addition to all the officials, referees, and organisers who are needed to make an event like this run smoothly.
We are currently reviewing today’s Government update regarding COVID-19.
We will have more information and make a statement tomorrow morning (17 March).
Please visit our website for further updates.
Thank you for your understanding and patience at this challenging time.
— Crucible Theatre (@crucibletheatre) March 16, 2020
There was already a somewhat farcical situation at the Gibraltar Open during the weekend in which players had to officiate their own matches.
Meanwhile, the Tour Championship that was due to be staged this week in Wales has been postponed.
Having initially insisted that the ranking event would proceed, the World Snooker Tour released another statement on Tuesday.
“Following Monday’s announcement from the UK government that public are advised to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues, we have liaised with ITV Sport and come to the decision to postpone the event, with new provisional dates of July 21st to 26th this year at the same venue.
“We appreciate this is very short notice and a disappointment for the fans and the television audience, however the assessment could only be made at short notice after yesterday’s announcement from the government which came at 5pm.
“The box office at Venue Cymru in Llandudno will contact ticket holders . Those tickets will be transferred automatically to the rescheduled dates. Fans who are unable to attend in July can contact the box office after April 1st for a refund.
“Announcements on future events including the World Championship will be made in due course, with all scenarios to be considered depending on further government advice.”
As a player it would have been nice to receive this information personally rather than finding out on social media https://t.co/2AJ2L21oCu
— Neil Robertson🌱 (@nr147) March 16, 2020
Snooker is one of the only major sports continuing with ongoing suspensions of play in the world of football, rugby, golf, and tennis, among others.
Featured photo: WST