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Hamilton voices virus fears over World Snooker Championship

Anthony Hamilton has expressed fears for his health over what he called a “ridiculous” decision to allow a limited number of fans to attend the World Snooker Championship.

The 49-year-old, who suffers from asthma, has criticised the move to make the championship, which starts on Friday, the only indoor event among three pilots in England designed to smooth the way for spectators to return after the coronavirus lockdown.

Hamilton warned: “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.”

The Englishman booked his place in Sheffield in the final qualifying round on Monday but his win was overshadowed by the prospect of the risks he now believes he is obliged to take.

The four-time quarter-finalist said he had been vigilant during the virus lockdown.

“So to go into a room with 300 people is against the grain for me,” he said. “I’m not going to be comfortable in there personally. I don’t know why anyone is going to be comfortable.

“Three hundred people for 17 days I think is an absolute risk. For entertainment purposes, it’s well out of proportion. I don’t think it’s a good risk at all.”

Hamilton said he would “definitely not” have played in the qualifiers if they had been staged in similar circumstances, and seriously considered whether to withdraw when the decision to allow fans into the final stages was confirmed.

Spectators will be issued with a code of conduct and must adhere to strict rules, including the wearing of face masks.

Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has also criticised the move to allow fans to attend.

But following Hamilton’s comments, World Snooker Tour officials stressed safety was of “paramount concern” and said the choice of the Crucible to stage the first indoor event with an audience signified a “fantastic triumph” for the game.

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