World Snooker Championship postponed as coronavirus reshapes sporting calendar

The Betfred World Snooker Championship has been postponed in the latest major change to the sporting calendar caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Snooker Tour said in a statement released on Friday that it intends to host the tournament, which had been due to run from April 18 to May 4, in July or August at the Crucible.

The statement added: “We are awaiting feedback from the BBC and our other principal broadcasters before dates are confirmed and we hope to make a further announcement in the coming days.”

WST chairman Barry Hearn said: “These are tough times for everyone but we are determined to get through it.

“Fans around the world – as well as the 144 players involved – are anxious to know if and when the World Championship will go ahead.

“Snooker players are self-employed, they need opportunities to earn prize money so we have a responsibility to them. We are currently exploring the potential to stage tournaments behind closed doors to keep the circuit alive.

“Live televised coverage of the biggest sporting events can be an inspiration to people around the world in these challenging times so it is important that we strive to find solutions for our tournaments.”

Meanwhile, England boss Gareth Southgate has urged fans to work together to combat the virus.

With Euro 2020 postponed by UEFA by a year, on Thursday British football governing bodies decided to indefinitely extend the 2019-20 season, which will not resume until April 30 at the earliest.

In an open letter to supporters on the official England Twitter account, Southgate wrote: “For everyone in our country, the primary focus is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we’ve faced collectively in decades.

“On behalf of all the team and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period.

“In the way you’ve all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.

“That responsibility lies with us all.”

Southgate stressed “the heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families”.

Southgate's team had been due to face Italy and Denmark this month (Mike Egerton/PA).
Southgate's team had been due to face Italy and Denmark this month (Mike Egerton/PA).

And he added: “When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery.

“To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition.”

The Rugby Football Union has announced all league rugby beneath the Gallagher Premiership has been brought to an end for the 2019-20 season. The RFU is in active discussion with the Premiership, which has been suspended for five weeks.

The RFU has confirmed the end of the 2019/20 season for all league, cup and county rugby in England with the exception of the Gallagher Premiership, which the RFU is in active discussions with.

Please read the full statement below.

— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 20, 2020

The mid-season rugby league Test between New Zealand and Tonga in Auckland has been postponed.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers have faced strong criticism over their insistence that as things stand this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games will go ahead as planned, with the Olympics due to begin on July 24.

As the Olympic flame reached the host city, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “While we do not know how long the tunnel we are all in at this moment will be, we would like the Olympic Flame to be a light at the end of this tunnel.”