October 19, 2020

Crucible crowds an ‘unnecessary risk’, says O’Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan last won the world title in 2013 and lost in the first round last year

Ronnie O’Sullivan says it would be an “unnecessary risk” to have fans attend the World Snooker Championship when the tournament begins on 31 July.

World Snooker has said it is “working hard” on plans for spectators to attend the Crucible “if it is possible”.

No sporting event in the UK has had spectators since March and O’Sullivan sees little point in even a reduced number of attendees in Sheffield.

“You aren’t really achieving anything,” the five-time champion told 5 Live.

“Having people there but not enough people doesn’t look good. Either pack it out and say we don’t actually care or just go we aren’t having anyone.”

World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn says “detailed discussions” are taking place over the potential for a live crowd.

But O’Sullivan says he has “no problem” with sporting events being behind closed doors until 2021, given the risk of coronavirus infection.

“Just sport being on television is enough at the moment,” said the 44-year-old.

“I just don’t think you want to be putting people’s lives at risk. You look at the NHS and you think this is like a war at the moment and it’s those people who have been flat out, and you watch what they go through, and anything to take the stress off them is paramount.”

He says playing is a “risk I’m prepared to take” but that he will assess how he feels at the venue and that if he is “very, very uncomfortable” he would withdraw.

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

The 2020 World Championship will be live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app.

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