Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan cannot understand why spectators are welcome at the Snooker World Cup, which starts in Sheffield on Friday. It is one of the events that the UK government is using as a pilot to allow the public to enter sports competitions again.
In England, many sports matches have already resumed behind closed doors, but the Snooker World Cup is one of the first events where (limited) public is welcome under strict conditions. Several hundred spectators are allowed in the Crucible Theater in Sheffield every day.
“I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” O’Sullivan said before the World Cup, saying BBC. “If there were normally five thousand people coming, I can see that you want to allow some public to generate income. But two hundred people, seriously? They use this event as if we were lab rats.”
“I challenge anyone who has kept their distance in the past four months to suddenly step into a room full of people. Unless you like to have a death wish, I understand very well that there are players who are not comfortable with this. “
At the Snooker World Cup, strict measures apply to spectators. (Photo: Getty Images)
“The virus is not taken seriously enough”
Not only O’Sullivan spoke negatively about the plans. Qualifier Anthony Hamilton, who is struggling with severe asthma, called the pilot “ridiculous”. “Suppose someone gets sick and dies. Then someone has died for no reason, purely because of the entertainment. It is madness,” said Hamilton.
O’Sullivan, 44, who crowned world snooker champion in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013, will start his sixth title on Sunday against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh from Thailand. He is not looking forward to playing for the public.
“I can imagine they want to test with spectators at some point. And it has to go somewhere, so why don’t we start snooker? After all, insurance doesn’t have to pay as much when it comes to Anthony Hamilton and not Lewis Hamilton.” O’Sullivan said in a cynical tone.
“I have spoken to nurses who say that infected people enter them and then think that they will be fine. Until they can no longer breathe and burst into tears. Only when you hear such stories do you know that COVID-19 is serious. And in my view it is not taken seriously now. “