The World Championship has been one of the numerous major sporting events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
WST chairman Barry Hearn remains optimistic that snooker’s World Championship will proceed on its rescheduled dates.
The flagship tournament was supposed to take place in April and into early May, but it was obviously cancelled as a result of the coronavirus lockdown within the UK and afar.
New dates have since been set, with the Crucible Theatre venue as well as broadcasters the BBC and Eurosport all signing up for the event to take place from July 31st to August 16th this summer.
With a phased easing of restrictions in the UK under way, Hearn is as positive as ever that the 2020 World Championship will finally see action.
“I would be 90 per cent confident that in some form it will go ahead,” Hearn told Nick Metcalfe of Metro.
“We’re well down the road. We’ve fixed the dates. The BBC are on board, Eurosport are on board”
“We have to live within government regulations. We’re now talking to the government on a number of different stages.
“There’s stage one, if we have a disaster and the pandemic comes back, maybe no one can go outdoors and the event will be cancelled.
“I don’t believe that will happen. Then there is the most likely scenario, which is a behind-closed-doors tournament. We will be ready to put that into operation.
“There is also the potential that by the end of July, limited crowds might be available.
“Or the dream scenario is the situation improves and small crowds are allowed at sporting events.
“Live sport needs a live audience to be properly appreciated. We have that option available but we’re not silly enough to only have that option.
“The message is we’re doing our best to stage the best event we can. Be patient.”
While it’s becoming increasingly likely that snooker’s World Championship will be on in some form, whether morally right or wrong, there does remain plenty of confusion surrounding the overall logistics as to how it could pan out.
Judd Trump, winner of a record six ranking titles during the 2019/20 campaign before it was paused, will be the favourite with the majority of sportbooks in this list of betting sites.
As a member of the top 16, Trump is obviously already automatically guaranteed his spot in the main draw.
How the qualifying rounds will be undertaken is probably of utmost concern, with more than 100 competitors having originally been expected to line up at the English Institute of Sport for the preliminaries last month.
Many cueists come from outside the UK, and with various restrictions and recovery plans in place in others countries it’s uncertain as to whether or not all the players will be able to travel to compete.
If the decision is taken to complete the World Championship, even if it’s at the cost of those who can’t enter as has been mooted in some circles, it could prove to be controversial with the sport’s global integrity potentially being brought into question.
As has become common in this year of abnormalcy, we’ll have to tentatively wait and see how the situation develops over the course of the next few weeks.