Barry Hearn issues World Snooker Championship warning: 'It's then or cancelled'
The 2020 World Snooker Championship will begin on 31 July or it will be cancelled this year, confirms WST chairman Barry Hearn.
The main event of the snooker season has been rescheduled to run from 31 July-16 August due to the coronavirus crisis, and Hearn insists there is now absolutely ‘no flexibility whatsoever’ on the new dates.
It is yet to be decided if there will be any fans in attendance at the Crucible in Sheffield – although it is very unlikely there will be – while there is yet to be an announcement on the schedule for the qualifiers.
However, Hearn is very confident that the event will go ahead, partly because there is no other option in terms of dates for broadcaster, the BBC.
‘There is no flexibility whatsoever,’ Hearn told talkSPORT’s The Sports Bar. ‘If it doesn’t happen that week it will be cancelled. It can’t happen this year. The broadcasters’ schedule is already set.
‘It’s not just us. The same argument would apply to Formula One or whatever – you either do it or you don’t do it.
On the event being cancelled if it cannot start on 31 July, Hearn was adamant: ‘You can take that as a 99 per cent yes. The reason I make it 99, is because you can never see 100 per cent on anything.”
Ahead of the World Championship, there is Championship League Snooker, starting on Monday at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, which will provide a test event for how the sport can get up and running amid the global pandemic.
Strict health and safety practices will be in use, with all players, staff and officials tested and only able to enter the facility if they test negative, while there will be social distancing within the arena.
The WST chairman is delighted to get back into the swing of things, with the event running from 1-11 June, shown live on ITV4.
‘We are buzzing, absolutely buzzing,’ said Hearn continued.
‘It is a terrible thing we are going through but as the lockdown has continued and you start getting used to lockdown, as a family we are just looking at new ideas. We are an event company with no events so we have to come up with ideas because what else is there to do?
‘It is easy to sit around on your backside and do nothing, but that is not our style. I’m really, really looking forward to action coming on ITV from Monday.’
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