Mark Allen believes calling off the World Snooker Championship would be ‘laughable’, despite the withdrawal of around 15 players.
On Monday, it was revealed that at least 14 players have now withdrawn from the sport’s show-piece due to travel issues or safety concerns related to the covid-19 pandemic.
World number 22 Zhou Yuelong is the highest ranked player so far to opt out of the £2.4 million tournament, while world number 28 Xiao Guodong will also not compete.
Twenty-three year-old sensation Zhao Xintong, Li Hang, Mei Xiwen, Zhang Anda, Zhang Jiankang, Chang Bingyu, Chen Zifan, Xu Si, Bai Langning and Lei Peifan make up the rest of the Chinese contingent to have withdrawn.
Hong Kong’s Andy Lee has also been ruled out due to travel restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong government until at least September, following in the footsteps of two-time semi-finalist Marco Fu – who became the first to opt out.
World number four Allen has dismissed calls for the World Championship to be cancelled as a result of the growing list of withdrawals, taking to Instagram to share his views.
Allen wrote: ‘I appreciate how unfortunate it is for the 11/12 players who have withdrawn from this year’s World Championship, whether that be for safety, visa issues or simply through choice.
‘However, to suggest the World Championship should be cancelled is laughable!
‘World Snooker have to continue with the sport!
‘I’m assuming contracts must be upheld with broadcasters on and sponsors as well as continuing to create opportunities for as many players as possible to earn a living.
‘Would it be fair to cancel an event for the 130 who can play and have chosen to play?
‘I know if I was one of those who couldn’t play for whatever reason I’d be annoyed but surely people have to see the bigger picture here?’
A total of 128 players will battle it out for 16 coveted places alongside the world’s top 16 in the World Championship – which is scheduled to take place from July 31 to August 16 at The Crucible.
The qualifying rounds are open to all tour professionals ranked outside of the world’s top 16, as well as a minimum of 16 WPBSA invited players.
WST and the WPBSA are working closely with the UK Government to assist players travelling from outside the UK with regard to visas, quarantine and travel issues.
While it remains to be seen whether the event will be held behind closed doors or in front of a crowd, WST Chairman Barry Hearn hinted that work is being done to ensure at least some spectators can enter the venue.
Hearn posted on Twitter: ‘Still working on getting fans in this year!’
‘It’s a complicated situation that we are dealing with. Unprecedented times. Working on it and hopeful.’