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Ken Doherty hopes restrictions will ease ahead of the World Snooker Championship
Doherty: "There's still five or six weeks until the tournament happens in Sheffield and hopefully restrictions will ease a little bit, which will allow some spectators inside"
Last Updated: 19/06/20 2:14pm
Ken Doherty hopes coronavirus restrictions will ease to allow a small number of spectators to watch the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This year's tournament has been rescheduled to begin on July 31 at the Crucible Theatre but it is due to take place behind closed doors.
However, with some restrictions starting to ease across the UK, Irishman Doherty believes the event could be one of the first to start allowing spectators in to watch live sport.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, the 1997 world champion who is nicknamed 'The Darlin' of Dublin', still harbours hopes a crowd will be allowed inside the 980 capacity venue.
"I think it's great that the world championship is going ahead, whether it's behind closed doors we don't know yet. There's still five or six weeks until the tournament happens in Sheffield and hopefully restrictions will ease a little bit, which will allow some spectators inside," Doherty said.
"Every sport needs spectators but if it goes ahead that's the most important thing and to get back live sport on TV."
Even if you had 30 or 40 per cent of the crowd it would still create a wonderful atmosphere and that's one of the great things about The Crucible.
Doherty, who inflicted Stephen Hendry's first loss in a world final 23 years ago, has praised Matchroom boss Barry Hearn for the impressive nature of snooker's comeback at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes for the Championship League.
He said: "They did a great job. Not one of the 64 players and all of the staff tested positive, which was great.
"Hopefully that will be the same for the world championship. If it is with a crowd then that would be fantastic, even a small percentage of a crowd.
"Even if you had 30 or 40 per cent of the crowd it would still create a wonderful atmosphere and that's one of the great things about The Crucible. The crowd are so close when you're playing and sitting down, that creates the atmosphere.
"We have to keep our fingers crossed between now and then."
There is a fear of top players having to withdraw due to the practicalities of having to re-enter the UK despite snooker chief Jason Ferguson remaining adamant the events integrity will remain intact.
"I fear for a lot for the Chinese players as they may struggle with visas and then there's the matter of two weeks quarantine. That may be a problem," admitted Doherty.
"Hopefully, it would be fantastic if they could all make it and participate at the world championship."
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