'Several players' withdraw from World Snooker Championship in Sheffield
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Reports in China earlier this week suggested up to 10 competitors had declined the opportunity to take part in the tournament, citing concerns over coronavirus and quarantine regulations.
World Snooker has now confirmed that ‘several players’ have withdrawn from the event. though none are believed to be ranked in the top 16, meaning they would have had to go through qualifying.
Former finalist Ding Junhui, who missed last month's Coral Tour Championship, has indicated he will take part, while Yan Bingtao, the other Chinese player in the top 16, is based in Sheffield and unaffected.
But former world number five Marco Fu, three-time women's world champion Ng On-yee, and Zhou Yuelong, who beat Mark Allen in the first round last year, are reportedly among those who have withdrawn.
This year’s Betfred World Championship had to be postponed due to coronavirus and is now due to take place at the sport’s spiritual home, The Crucible, from July 31 to August 16.
The qualifying rounds, featuring 128 players, will take place from July 21-28 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
In a statement, the World Snooker Tour said: "Several players have indicated that they have decided not to travel to the UK and the draw for the qualifying rounds will be made after the entry deadline which falls on July 6."
Snooker returned in June, with matches taking place behind closed doors. Details of the precise arrangements for the World Snooker Championship and what measures will be in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus have yet to be announced.
World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) chairman Jason Ferguson said: “We have done everything we can to support our playing membership.
“We appreciate that a small number have indicated their decision not to come to the UK, but the vast majority will compete and, without question, the show must go on.”