World Snooker Championship and Invictus Games postponed, Turkish Süper Lig and Pro-14 ‘suspended indefinitely’

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The World Snooker Championship has been postponed just days after promotor Barry Hearn suggested that the event could take place behind closed doors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Snooker Tour’s marquee event was due to run from April 18 to May 4 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, but a statement from World Snooker Tour indicated it intends to host the event on alternative dates in July or August.

The organisation said it was awaiting feedback from the BBC, its broadcast rights partner in the UK, and from other principle broadcasters before the new dates are confirmed and hopes to make an announcement in the coming days.

WST chairman Barry Hearn said: “These are tough times for everyone but we are determined to get through it. Fans around the world – as well as the 144 players involved – are anxious to know if and when the World Championship will go ahead. I can assure everyone that we are doing all we can alongside our broadcasters, the venues and other partners to confirm new dates as soon as possible.”

Earlier in the week, Hearn told BBC Scotland the event could be played behind closed doors, “subject to the normal health requirements” to “keep everyone busy and happy”. He also suggested the pandemic could “provide an opportunity for indoor sports” in the absence of other live events.

In the most recent statement, Hearn appears to be holding out the hope that WST can continue to schedule some closed-door snooker tournaments as governments around the world look to clamp down on public gatherings.

“Snooker players are self-employed, they need opportunities to earn prize money so we have a responsibility to them. We are currently exploring the potential to stage tournaments behind closed doors to keep the circuit alive, with more details to follow next week,” he said.

“Live televised coverage of the biggest sporting events can be an inspiration to people around the world in these challenging times so it is important that we strive to find solutions for our tournaments.”

Pro-14 indefinitely suspended

Yesterday (Thursday) it was announced the 2019-20 season of the Guinness Pro14 was “indefinitely suspended” due to the pandemic and the Guinness Pro14 Final, due to take place at Cardiff City Stadium on June 20, has been cancelled.

The board of Celtic Rugby DAC met by teleconference this week and agreed on criteria that would need to be met in its four competing territories before the Championship could recommence. It said public health authorities would need to cease to prohibit the resumption of sport and group training; lift travel restrictions between the territories and lift any forced isolation or quarantine orders in force when visiting the territories for matches to resume.

Finally, the board said player welfare would need to be safeguarded, including requirement for a suitable pre-recommencement training period, to be established in conjunction with the high-performance personnel at participating unions and teams.

Turkish Süper Lig suspended

Turkey’s sports minister announced Thursday that the country’s top-flight football competition, the Süper Lig, has also been suspended indefinitely because of the virus.

The country’s football federation had been heavily criticised by players and coaches for continuing to schedule games behind closed doors. On Tuesday, former Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel quit leading side Trabzonspor in protest at having to play football through the pandemic.

“All football activities in Turkey have been suspended until further notice because of the continuous spread of coronavirus,” said a statement from the Turkish Football Federation.

Invictus Games postponed

Finally, the board for the 2020 Invictus Games, scheduled from 9 to 16 May in the Hague have said they are investigating options to reschedule the event to May or June 2021, subject to the availability of key facilities and resources.

“The decision was also taken in recognition of the anticipated strain on medical staff and the infrastructure required in dealing with the pandemic,” said a statement from the organisers.

“We did not wish to add to the complexity of the response, or increase the risk to those involved, by bringing together an international and potentially vulnerable audience.”