Barry Hearn: World Darts Championship behind closed doors is ‘slap in the face’


Professional Darts Corporation chairman Barry Hearn says sport is “getting slapped in the face” after all-but the opening day of the World Championships will now be played behind closed doors.

Fans are allowed into the Alexandra Palace for Tuesday’s first day of the sport’s flagship tournament before London is moved into Tier 3 by the Government on Wednesday, upping coronavirus restrictions and meaning no other spectators will be allowed in.

Hearn is frustrated by the lack of consistency, having seen 1,000 people attend Anthony Joshua’s fight with Kubrat Pulev in the capital on Saturday.

“We had the AJ fight on Saturday there was 1,000 people there, they all had a good time, they behaved themselves, security was very good, they met all the criteria and it passed without any problems,” Hearn told talkSPORT.

“We can’t go one day this, one day that forever. We have either got to say ‘close the lot or open it’. You can’t have a world of inconsistency because people don’t know where they are and that involves sport.

“I am getting very frustrated, we are doing all the work and then getting slapped in the face.”

It is not the first time Hearn has been stung by changing rules on the eve of a huge tournament as the snooker World Championships at the Crucible were due to be played in front of a crowd from the start, until restrictions were upped just before it began.

Fans will only be allowed in at the Alexandra Palace on the opening day of the World Championships
Fans will only be allowed in at the Alexandra Palace on the opening day of the World Championships

“We had the same situation with the snooker World Championships, we did a huge amount of work, huge costs to get everything Covid friendly as much as you can, and then the plug was pulled on us 24 hours later.

“Sport is such an important part of this country’s mental health, this country’s entertainment and yet they are throwing us around like a used doll.

“It is going to have fundamental long-term effects on the whole country and sport if we don’t get a grip on this. We have got to stop changing our policy every other day.”

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