More than ten players have now pulled out of the 2020 World Snooker Championship amid complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu became the first player to rule himself out of competing in the sport’s show-piece, citing safety concerns over travelling to the UK.
Now, a further 13 Asian players have followed suit and will not be heading to Sheffield for the qualifying rounds, which are due to take place from July 21-28.
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Chang Bingyu, Chen Zifan, Xu Si, Bai Langning and Lei Peifan make up the rest of the Chinese contingent to have withdrawn.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, meaning three-time Women’s World Champion NG On Yee is also likely to miss out.
Thailand’s James Wattana is among the other confirmed withdrawals, while it remains to be seen whether his fellow countrymen including Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham will feature.
Former world finalist and current UK Champion Ding Junhui is expected to return from China for the event despite pulling out of the recent Tour Championship.
The likes of Yan Bingtao and Liang Wenbo are already in the UK so are set to compete.
The 14-day travel quarantine for arrivals to the UK from abroad remains a key stumbling block for overseas players, as well as safety concerns over coronavirus.
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.
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.