World Snooker Championship: Anthony Hamilton withdraws due to coronavirus fears
Barry Hearn on Hamilton's decision: "Kyren Wilson gets a bye. He [Hamilton] knew the situation. He hasn't had asthma that started yesterday. He's had asthma and health issues for some time"
Last Updated: 30/07/20 5:47pm
Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from this year's World Snooker Championship citing fears over coronavirus, according to chairman Barry Hearn.
The 49-year-old qualifier was scheduled to begin his first-round match against Kyren Wilson on Friday afternoon, but the eighth seed will receive a bye to the second round.
Hamilton, who suffers from asthma, criticised the move to make the championship. It is the only indoor event among three pilots designed to smooth the way for spectators to return after the coronavirus pandemic.
World Snooker Tour chairman Hearn told Talksport: "Anthony Hamilton withdrew yesterday having gone through the qualifying competition and decided last night that he's going to withdraw from the World Snooker Championship because he's got asthma and he is worried about his own health."
The four-time quarter-finalist, who made his Crucible debut in 1996, spoke about his concerns just a couple of days before the start of the tournament at the Crucible in Sheffield. He also admitted coming close to withdrawing from the event prior to the qualifiers, which were played behind closed doors.
He said: "Let's say one person gets ill and dies from the Crucible - it's one person who died for no reason at all, just for entertainment. I think it's ridiculous."
Why did he now withdraw then instead of knocking someone else out and stopping them earning a living, instead of withdrawing afterwards so that we're a player short?
Barry Hearn on Anthony Hamilton
The late notice of his withdrawal angered Hearn, who said: "The question I pose is why did he not withdraw before the qualifying competition, because by getting through the qualifiers he has effectively stopped someone else from going and earning a living."
Hearn added: "He entered a competition knowing while he was in that competition he knew there was going to be fans present.
"Why did he now withdraw then instead of knocking someone else out and stopping them earning a living, instead of withdrawing afterwards so that we're a player short?
"Kyren Wilson gets a bye. He [Hamilton] knew the situation. He hasn't had asthma that started yesterday. He's had asthma and health issues for some time."
Hamilton confirmed his withdrawal via a statement on World Snooker Tour's official website.
He said: "It has been a really difficult decision for me.
"I was extremely impressed by the way that WST and their partners ran the qualifying rounds, they made the players feel totally safe.
"And I realise they have followed all of the government guidelines and implemented extensive measures for the main event at the Crucible.
"However due to my health condition, after careful consideration I have decided not to play in the final stages."
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