|Lieu: Crucible Theater, Sheffield Appointment: July 31-August 16|
|Blanket: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app.|
Ronnie O’Sullivan is expected to withdraw from this year’s World Snooker Championship if he has genuine coronavirus issues, defending champion Judd Trump has said.
Trump, who kicks off the rescheduled World Championship on Friday morning, said players should “just stay out of the way” if they are concerned about their safety.
He called the duo “selfish” for not withdrawing sooner and giving the other players a chance.
Trump said: “I’ve been in the game long enough to know that if there’s a world championship coming up, there [O’Sullivan] gonna try to make the headlines.
“Of all the people, Ronnie is probably the only one who doesn’t need the money, so I find it quite difficult for him to get in there and try out what’s going on. Just go out and let someone else try. ”
O’Sullivan had expressed sympathy for Hamilton, who struggled two qualifying games to reach the crucible.
Hamilton, 49, had called the move to allow fans to participate – making the World Championship the first and so far the only indoor event to do so since the lockdown – “ridiculous”.
Kyren Wilson, who was due to face Hamilton on Friday, has been left goodbye in the second round but Hamilton will still be allowed to keep his £ 20,000 in prize money and ranking points.
Trump, 30, said tournament organizers had taken “extraordinary security measures” and “all players should feel very safe.”
“I’m not worried about catching it or anything like that,” the Englishman added.
“If it was another sport leading the way, then all the players would be wondering why it wasn’t us.
“We’re at the forefront of the sports world right now and at some point there must be a crowd.
“When is it too early?” Nobody knows, but you have to come back to it at some point and there will always be the same questions asked when it came back, so why not now?
What security measures are in place?
Players will undergo Covid-19 testing ahead of their first round and quarter-final matches, while their seats inside the arena will be separated by plastic screens.
About 300 fans will be allowed inside the venue and those who have booked tickets to attend will be placed in ‘bubbles’ for up to four people – limited to a maximum of two households – and will be socially estranged from others. in the arena, with no spectators in the front row.
Temperature controls will not be in place and although face masks must be worn around the venue, they can be removed once spectators are seated inside.
Trump starts off as a big favorite
Trump’s record-breaking season this year saw him become the first player to win six ranking titles in a single campaign.
He heads to Sheffield in an attempt to break the ‘curse of the crucible’, where no first-time champion defended the title the following year.
“I’m delighted to be back and have the chance to defend my title,” said Trump, who beat John Higgins 18-9 in last year’s high-quality final. “Obviously that will be the icing on the cake. I have no illusions as to the difficulty.
“Nobody’s done it before, so there’s no pressure on myself no matter what I’m doing. It doesn’t really matter after the season I had. It’s a free kick.
“I’m lucky to have this tournament and to go and enjoy it as much as I can. “
John Parrott, BBC expert and 1991 world champion:
Trump will be very nervous in the first round, especially as the defending champion, and Tom Ford can take it for nothing and put on a good show.
It is absolutely true that Trump is the frontrunner. He’s been the player of the season and with all the events he’s won, he looks like a champion. No one has played better than him.
The Ronnie O’Sullivan v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh game is the first round draw, it will be very easy to watch. Both players are brilliantly talented and there should be a lot of heavy scoring.
Who are the newbies?
Elliot Slessor (25), England
Had made a deal with his girlfriend Stephanie who, if he qualified for the world championship, would start making plans to get married. “She will be thrilled,” he said.
Face the Chinese Yan Bingtao in the first round.
Jordan Brown (32), Ireland of the North
Hailing from Antrim and training partner of world number four Mark Allen, who said Brown “is starting to show the promise I have seen for so long.”
Face Mark Selby in the first round.
Ashley Carty (25), England
Local boy Carty, from Sheffield’s neighboring town of Rotherham, got his tour card for next season by qualifying.
Compete against Stuart Bingham in the first round.
Alexander Ursenbacher (24), Switzerland
Ursenbacher became the first Swiss player to reach Le Creuset and in turn the 19th different nationality to compete on the site.
Play Barry Hawkins in the first round.
Jamie Clarke (25), Wales
The lowest ranked player in the field, Clarke beat Joe Perry in qualifying and reached the semi-finals of the Snooker Shootout tournament last season.
Face Mark Allen in the first round.