Sheffield Crucible snooker finals declared part of “huge moment in our journey back to normality” by minister

A Government minister declared “another huge moment in our journey back to normality” as major events including the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield have been used to test Coronavirus safety.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:35 pm

Audiences at the Betfred-sponsored snooker championships at the Crucible Theatre are gradually being increased until they will be at full capacity for the final this weekend.

Following another test event held at the Circus club night that has attracted 6,000 young revellers to the Liverpool venue on Friday and today (Saturday), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This weekend is another huge moment in our journey back to normality.

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Fans during the match between England's Stuart Bingham and England's Mark Selby during day 15 of the Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield today, Saturday

“This week Liverpool have hosted the first major indoor events without social distancing or Covid restrictions and tonight 3,000 clubbers will once more head to the Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse to enjoy another night of brilliant DJ sets, with 5,000 people at an outdoor gig at Sefton Park tomorrow.

“I have seen first hand just how important these research events are.

“Yesterday, I visited the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to watch the Snooker World Championship.

“With the event initially requiring social distancing – starting with a third of the venue’s capacity – this is being gradually eased in time for the finals, where capacity will rise to 100% on Sunday and Monday.”

Fans had to supply a text message or email confirming a negative lateral flow test result, taken either on the day of or the day before the session they were attending, plus photographic identification and had to send an email confirming their consent to participate in the Government’s Events Research Programme.

Last year's World Snooker Championships were delayed by the pandemic until the end of July and several players withdrew from the tournament.

Some fans were allowed in to the Crucible on the first day of the tournament but then audiences were banned as infection levels rose again. Eventually 300 fans were allowed to attend the final, where they saw Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Kyren Wilson.

The champion angrily complained ahead of last year’s tournament: “They’re treating this snooker event like lab rats really, so what can you do?

“Maybe they have to start doing tests on crowds at some point. You’ve got to start somewhere, start with snooker players – less insurance to pay out for Anthony Hamilton than there is for Lewis Hamilton."