Letter: Snooker audience trial

This letter sent to the Star was written by Dan J.J. Kahn (Tia Anna, Drag Artiste), Vice-Chair, EQUITY South Yorkshire Variety Branch, (S2)

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 7:20 am
Spectators make their way through security as the World Snooker championships under strict COVID-19 rules

Re. ‘I have no pride in the World Snooker holding audience trial’. I am writing to express my total and utter disgust at the current decision by central government to allow the World Snooker at the Crucible to conduct an audience trial allowing up to full audience figures for perhaps one of the few sports where attending to watch in person makes least sense, while so many of our other valuable local cultural, sporting, and social events remain outlawed, even if they may attract just a couple of dozen people.

The fact that the ‘audience trial’ at this tournament begins on the very same day, nay even the same hour, as the funeral of one of the country’s greatest state figures (and a war hero to boot), gets under way, adds only insult to injury; while it is admirable that the Royals are maintaining the no more than 30 persons rule, why cannot at least the people of Windsor, or more members and veterans of the armed services line the route of an outdoor procession, when a small, enclosed arena will be hosting an audience of up to 1,000 mainly privileged, middle-aged men watching two other middle-aged men engage in a match on a table scarcely larger than a chess or bridge championship.

What on earth were the unnamed and unaccountable Government mandarins thinking of when they granted this ‘audience trial’?

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Meanwhile, all the rest of us outside in the normal locked-down world, men, women, children, elderly, disabled, diverse ethnic groups, etc., are forced to look on at this charade as their events in their hundreds and thousands across the land are postponed for another year or cancelled altogether.

As a keen swimmer, time and time again, I have been unable to book a slot at my favourite open-air pool at Hathersage due to it being so heavily beseiged by swimmers unable to use their own local indoor pools, despite the chlorine being a proven protection against airborne viruses.

Disabled sporting events across the land as well as numerous charity marathons and similar events have not been offered the chance to go ahead even only for participants, unlike the lucky World Snooker circus.

And don’t even think of any chance that cultural and arts events, from Off The Shelf, to Tramlines, Sharrow Lantern Festival, and, yes, even our own Pride In Sheffield, (which supports so much community cohesion and support for the LGBT and wider community), will ever go ahead at this rate.

Finally, I should also add that the salt is only rubbed into the wound further when you consider that the Crucible Theatre (along with the Lyceum) was a purpose-built venue for performing arts: plays, musicals, concerts, dance and opera, and as such it is mandatory that the Government does all it can to expedite the return of plays, musicals and other performing arts with test audiences of, say, 4-500; in particular family-friendly events, to give our benighted children and youth something truly inspirational during these troubled times.

Once, like many Sheffielders I had a sense of pride in that our city was hosting the Snooker World Championship every year, but now, I feel only a sense of shame that it has taken precedence over many local cultural events including our own Pride, and I will not miss it if the event does not happen here in future.