July 22, 2020 / 7:04 AM / 19 days ago

Snooker: O'Sullivan says crowds at World Championship an unnecessary risk

FILE PHOTO: Snooker - BetVictor Welsh Open Final - Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales - 21/2/16.Ronnie O'Sullivan in action during the final.Mandatory Credit:Action Images / Rebecca Naden/Livepic

(Reuters) - Former world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan said the decision to allow a limited number of spectators during this year’s snooker World Championship in Britain is an unnecessary risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The July 31 to Aug. 16 event at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre from will allow a limited number of spectators after the British government said it would “stress test” new guidelines at select trial events for a return to some kind of sporting normality.

“You aren’t really achieving anything. Having people there but not enough people doesn’t look good. Either pack it out and say we don’t actually care or go ‘we aren’t having anyone’,” five-times world champion O’Sullivan told the BBC.

Professional sport in Britain returned last month after a near three-month shutdown because of the novel coronavirus outbreak but spectators have not been allowed to attend to adhere to social distancing norms.

“Just sport being on television is enough at the moment. I think it (allowing spectators) is an unnecessary risk. I just don’t think you want to be putting people’s lives at risk’,” O’Sullivan added.

“You look at the NHS and you think this is like a war at the moment and it’s those people who’ve been flat out, and you watch what they go through, and anything to take the stress off them is paramount.”

Spectators at the World Championship will be expected to follow strict safety protocols.

O’Sullivan suggested that he could pull out of the event if he does not feel completely comfortable at the venue.

“If I get to that point then obviously there’s no point in playing,” he added. “And hopefully I don’t, hopefully I feel like I’m there and I’m enjoying.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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