Snooker players are treated like “lab rats” by allowing spectators to enter the Crucible Theater for the world championship, says Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The tournament, which starts on Friday, will be the first indoor sporting event with crowds, allowing around 300 supporters to attend each session.
The qualifier Anthony Hamilton, who suffers from severe asthma, says it’s “ridiculous” and “too soon” for fans.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan said the players “were all at a bit of a risk”.
A number of sports have already returned behind closed doors, but snooker will be the second government-backed pilot event after the Surrey v Middlesex cricket friendly in front of fans.
Those who have booked tickets to attend the Sheffield venue will be placed in ‘bubbles’ for up to four people – limited to a maximum of two households – and will be socially distant from others in the arena.
Temperature controls will not be in place and face masks should be worn around the site but can be removed when seated inside.
World number 48 Hamilton withdrew from the Tour Championship – the first event that was played back from sport – due to health concerns and called for the decision to allow people to take off their masks in the auditorium ” a crazy thing ”.
He added: “Let’s say a person gets sick and dies from the crucible, that is, a person dies for no reason, just for fun.
“I won’t be comfortable in that personally, I don’t know why anyone would be comfortable, we all know it’s in flight. “
World Snooker Tour said being named as the UK’s premier indoor event was a ‘fantastic triumph’ and that health and safety was’ the highest priority and the protection of our fans, players and staff ”.
O’Sullivan said: “I challenge anyone if they’ve kept their distance from people for four months to say, oh yeah, now you have to walk into a room full of people – unless you have a wish to. dead, and some people have it in a lot of ways and they don’t care.
“But if you are one of those people who care about your health and take it seriously, I fully understand how he feels.
“I would feel a little strange to walk into a room with 10 people I don’t know, and I did. I didn’t feel comfortable.
“So I totally respect where Anthony is coming from, and where the other people are from – they want crowds there, they want things to get back to normal. We have a choice, we don’t have to go play. little risk.
“I don’t think it’s a risk worth taking. I have the option of not playing but I have decided to play. Maybe with 5,000 fans, I could see that it’s kind of an income that you’re going to lose, but 200 fans. , is it really?
“Maybe they need to start doing a crowd test at some point and I’ve heard people say they’re treating the snooker event a bit like lab rats – you have to start somewhere. , start with the snooker players.
“Less insurance to pay for Anthony Hamilton than for Lewis Hamilton. “
O’Sullivan says he has had friends who died from Covid-19 and that he was no closer than 20 feet from his mother who is in the “high risk” category because she had pneumonia l ‘last year.
“It’s only when you have people close to you who have been there and you know someone who is dead,” he said.
“And I had nurses that I spoke to and they say to me, ‘People have come with Covid-19 and they think they’re fine and it’s only when they can’t breathe that ‘they say’ please don’t ‘let me die’. ‘
“Adult men and women are screaming because they can’t breathe. It’s only when something like this happens and you hear these stories that you are going to “wait a minute, this is serious”.
“I don’t think it was taken seriously enough. “
The opening matches begin at 10:00 a.m. BST live on the BBC, with defending champion Judd Trump in action against Tom Ford, while O’Sullivan begins his campaign against Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh on Sunday.