WST Chairman Barry Hearn has hit out at Anthony Hamilton’s eleventh-hour withdrawal from the World Snooker Championship due to health concerns.
Hamilton came through the qualifying rounds on Monday to secure a first Crucible appearance since 2008, but has now made a rapid u-turn to pull out of the prestigious tournament.
Hamilton suffers from Asthma and cited concerns over what he believed to be a “ridiculous” decision to allow a reduced capacity crowd into the venue during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around 300 fans are expected to be present for each session of the 17-day competition, which is the only UK indoor sporting event to be piloted for the return of spectators.
Hearn broke the news of Hamilton’s withdrawal on Talksport on Thursday morning and questioned why the 49-year-old chose to enter the competition from the outset.
“Anthony Hamilton withdrew yesterday having gone through the qualifying competition and decided last night he’s going to withdraw because he’s got asthma and he’s worried about his own health,” revealed Hearn.
“That’s understandable, not a problem, the question I pose is, why did he not withdraw before the qualifying competition?
“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, there were going to be fans present.
“Why did he not withdraw then instead of knocking someone else out and taking away their living?
“He withdrew afterwards so we’re a player short, which means Kyren Wilson gets a bye.
“He knew the situation, he hasn’t had asthma starting yesterday, he’s had health issues for some time.”
Hamilton had defeated Scott Donaldson 10-5 in the final qualifying round at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on Monday.
Despite his decision to opt out, he will still receive £20,000 in prize money, which will count towards the world rankings.
Explaining his decision, Hamilton told WST: “It has been a really difficult decision for me.
“I was extremely impressed by the way that WST and their partners ran the qualifying rounds, they made the players feel totally safe.
“And I realise they have followed all of the government guidelines and implemented extensive measures for the main event at the Crucible.
“However due to my health condition, after careful consideration I have decided not to play in the final stages.
“I want to apologise to my opponents at the qualifiers, Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson, and assure them that I had every intention of playing at the Crucible.
“But it was only after I finished the qualifying rounds that I was able to do a full personal risk assessment based on the latest information and discussions with WST.
“I am absolutely gutted not to be playing because it is the best tournament and the Crucible is the home of snooker. I wish everyone the best and hope the event is a great success.”
The World Championship takes place from July 31 to August 16 and will now feature a 31-player field for the first time.