Anthony Hamilton set to miss snooker’s showpiece due to coronavirus concerns

Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from this year’s World Snooker Championship citing fears over coronavirus, according to World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn.

The 49-year-old qualifier was scheduled to begin his first round match against Kyren Wilson on Friday afternoon, but the eighth seed will now receive a bye to the second round.

Hearn told TalkSPORT: “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.”

After beating Scott Donaldson in the final round of qualifying on Monday, Hamilton had criticised the move to allow a limited number of spectators 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, who made his Crucible debut in 1996, also admitted he came close to withdrawing from the event prior to the qualifiers, which were played behind closed doors.

The late notice of his withdrawal angered Hearn, who added: “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.”

Hearn added: “He entered a competition knowing while he was in that competition he knew there was going to be fans present.

Barry Hearn is preparing for snooker's showpiece event
Barry Hearn is preparing for snooker's showpiece event

“Why did he now withdraw then instead of knocking someone else out and stopping them earning a living, instead of withdrawing afterwards so that we’re a player short?

“Kyren Wilson gets a bye. He (Hamilton) knew the situation. He hasn’t had asthma that started yesterday. He’s had asthma and health issues for some time.”