Barry Hearn sorry for fans with 'golden tickets' for the World Snooker Championship
Barry Hearn: "It's a great shame for people who had those golden tickets, but in the circumstances we are now living in we have to accept the decision and move on"
Last Updated: 31/07/20 3:13pm
Barry Hearn says it's a shame for fans with "golden tickets" for the World Snooker Championship after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off the return of spectators on a pilot basis.
The tournament, which started today in Sheffield, had fans present, while a handful of county cricket friendlies had already played host to crowds, with more planned for the coming days.
The same scenario was ahead for racing, with 5,000 expected at Glorious Goodwood on Saturday, but the attendances will now read zero as the Prime Minister changed the plans due to oronavirus fears.
It comes after it was announced that people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and west Yorkshire would be banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.
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"We realise this will be a huge disappointment for fans who were excited to witness the magic of the Crucible over the next fortnight, and we feel the same ourselves," said World Snooker Tour chairman Hearn.
"At every stage of this process we have been following government guidelines and working with them on the correct procedures. We have had very positive feedback from the government, they have been impressed by the measures we have implemented. Safety has always been our number one priority and we have met every aspect of the government guidelines in this regard.
"Above all it's a great shame for people who had those golden tickets, but in the circumstances we are now living in we have to accept the decision and move on.
"Snooker has led the way in terms of the return of live sport, in recent weeks we have been the first to stage live televised events and now live events with a small crowd. In the months to come we will continue to find innovative ways to bring sport back safely and entertain our many millions of fans around the globe."
He pulled out, made his position clear. Good luck, see you later son.
Barry Hearn on Anthony Hamilton
Fans with tickets for Friday's play would be let in for the afternoon and evening session, but the tournament - which concludes with the final on August 15 and 16 - will continue behind closed doors from Saturday.
The decision to remove fans came after qualifier Anthony Hamilton withdrew from the event saying he feared for his health as a chronic asthmatic, leading to criticism from Hearn and others that he had prevented someone else from playing.
Following Friday's news, Hearn remained unmoved.
"He pulled out, made his position clear," he said. "Good luck, see you later son."
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