O’Sullivan should ‘pull out’ if unhappy

O’Sullivan should ‘pull out’ if unhappy

Venue:Crucible Theatre, SheffieldDates:31 July-16 August
Coverage:Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Ronnie O’Sullivan should withdraw from this year’s World Snooker Championship if he has genuine coronavirus concerns, defending champion Judd Trump says.

Trump, who kicks off the rescheduled World Championship on Friday morning, said players should “simply not enter” if they are worried about their safety.

He called the duo “selfish” for not pulling out earlier and giving other players a chance.

Trump said: “I have been around the game long enough to know that if there is a World Championship coming up, he [O’Sullivan] is going to try to get the headlines.

“Of all people, Ronnie is probably the only one who doesn’t need the money, so I find it quite hard that he can enter it and have a go at what is going on. Just pull out and let someone else have a go.”

O’Sullivan had expressed sympathy for Hamilton, who battled through two qualifying matches to reach the Crucible.

Hamilton, 49, had called the move to allow fans in – which makes the World Championship the first and so far only indoor event to do so since the lockdown – “ridiculous”.

Kyren Wilson, who had been scheduled to face Hamilton on Friday, has been given a bye into the second round, but Hamilton will still be allowed to keep his £20,000 prize money and ranking points.

Trump, 30, said the tournament organisers had taken “extraordinary measures with safety” and “all the players should feel very safe”.

“I am not worried about catching it or anything like that,” added the Englishman.

“If it was another sport leading the way, then all the players will be asking questions about why it wasn’t us.

“We are at the forefront of the whole world of sport at the moment and at some point there has to be a crowd.

“When is too soon? Nobody knows, but you have got to get back to it at some point and there are always going to be the same questions asked when it did come back, so why not now?

What safety measures are in place?

Anthony Hamilton
World number 49 Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from the World Championship citing health concerns

Players will have Covid-19 tests before their first-round and quarter-final matches, while their seats inside the arena will be separated by plastic screens.

Around 300 fans will be allowed inside the venue and those that have booked tickets to attend will be placed in ‘bubbles’ of up to four people – limited to a maximum of two households – and will be socially distanced from others in the arena, with no spectators in the front row.

Temperature checks will not be in place and although face masks must be worn around the venue they can be removed once spectators are seated inside.

Trump starts as strong favourite

Trump’s record-breaking season this year saw him become the first player to claim six ranking event titles in one campaign.

He heads to Sheffield looking to break the ‘Crucible curse’, where no first-time champion has gone on to defend the title the following year.

“I’m excited to be back and have the chance to defend my title,” said Trump, who beat John Higgins 18-9 in last year’s high-quality final. “Obviously this will be the icing on the cake. I’m under no illusions as to how hard it will be.

“Nobody has ever done it before, so there is no pressure on myself, no matter what I do. It doesn’t really matter after the season I have had. It is a free shot.

“I am lucky to have this tournament on and go out there and enjoy it as much as I can.”


BBC pundit and 1991 world champion John Parrott:

Trump will be very nervous in the first round, especially as the defending champion, and Tom Ford can take it as a shot to nothing and will put up a good show.

It is absolutely right that Trump is the favourite. He has been the player of the season, and with all the events he has been winning, he looks like a champion. No-one has played better than him.

The Ronnie O’Sullivan v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh match is the standout tie of the first round, it will be very easy on the eye. Both players are brilliantly talented and there should be a lot of heavy scoring.

Who are the debutants?

Elliot Slessor (25), England

Had made a deal with his girlfriend Stephanie that should he qualify for the World Championship, they would start making plans to get married. “She’ll be over the moon,”he said.external-link

Faces China’s Yan Bingtao in the first round.

Jordan Brown (32), Northern Ireland

Hailing from Antrim and the practice partner of world number four Mark Allen, who said Brown was “starting to show the promise I’ve been seeing for so long”.

Faces Mark Selby in the first round.

Ashley Carty (25), England

Local boy Carty, of Sheffield’s neighbouring town Rotherham, secured his tour card for next season by coming through qualifying.

Faces Stuart Bingham in the first round.

Alexander Ursenbacher (24), Switzerland

Ursenbacher became the first Swiss player to reach the Crucible and in turn the 19th different nationality to compete at the venue.

Plays Barry Hawkins in the first round.

Jamie Clarke (25), Wales

The lowest-ranked player in the field, Clarke defeated Joe Perry in the qualifiers and reached the semi-finals of the Snooker Shootout tournament last season.

Faces Mark Allen in the first round.

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