Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from the World Championship due to his coronavirus concerns, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn said on Thursday.
Hamilton was scheduled to play his first round match against Kyren Wilson on Friday, but the 49-year-old, who suffers from asthma, has decided to pull out.
The World Championship, which starts on Friday in Sheffield, is one of three events being used to test the return of spectators to British sport on a limited basis.
A reduced capacity is being used at the Crucible Theatre, with spectators issued with a code of conduct and asked to adhere to strict rules, including wearing face masks
“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,” Hearn told Talksport.
After beating Scott Donaldson in the final round of qualifying on Monday, Hamilton had criticised the move to allow a limited number of fans into the Crucible.
Hamilton, who describes himself as “high risk”, had called the situation “ridiculous” and 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.”
The four-time quarter-finalist also admitted he came close to withdrawing from the event before the qualifiers, which were played behind closed doors.
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.
“He entered a competition knowing while he was in that competition he knew there was going to be fans present.
“He knew the situation. He hasn’t had asthma that started yesterday. He’s had asthma and health issues for some time.”
Hamilton’s withdrawal came 24 hours after five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who will compete in the tournament, claimed players were being treated like “lab rats” over the fan experiment.