Judd Trump and Barry Hearn question Anthony Hamilton’s decision to withdraw from World Snooker Championship


Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from the World Snooker Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from the World Snooker Championship over health concerns due to the coronavirus, but WST chairman Barry Hearn has questioned his timing and world champion Judd Trump has blasted him as ‘selfish.’

The 49-year-old had spoken out about the ‘ridiculous’ decision to let fans into the Crucible, with the World Championship chosen as a test event by Government, and around 300 people allowed into each session.

The Sheriff of Pottingham came through qualifying for the main stages of the tournament, but questioned the decision immediately after securing his place at the Crucible, citing his struggles with asthma as a reason he would be far from comfortable with competing in front of a crowd.

‘Let’s say one person gets ill and dies from the Crucible – it’s one person who died for no reason at all, just for entertainment,’ Hamilton said after securing qualification. ‘I think it’s ridiculous.

‘On a personal front I’m high risk – I’ve got asthma so I’ve been diligent to say the least during this lockdown. I’ve been shielding, basically. I haven’t been seeing anyone.

‘I’ve been practising on my own, I’ve been washing all my food, cleaning my clothes before going in the house, all that business.

‘So to go into a room with 300 people is against the grain for me. I’m not going to be comfortable in there personally. I don’t know why anyone is going to be comfortable. Three hundred people for 17 days I think is an absolute risk. For entertainment purposes, it’s well out of proportion. I don’t think it’s a good risk at all.’

The former German Masters champion has now pulled out of the event, after also pulling out of the Championship League in June, which Hearn says is ‘completely understandable and not a problem’ but insists that WST know best and has questioned the timing of Hamilton’s decision.

‘The question I pose is: why did he not withdraw before the qualifying competition? Because by getting through the qualifiers he has effectively stopped someone else from going and earning a living,’ Hearn told talkSPORT.

‘He’s not qualified to say “it’s ridiculous”; we’ve worked with government specialists, with the health bodies.

‘He entered the competition knowing there were going to be fans present; why did he not withdraw then, instead of knocking someone else out?

‘He knows the situation. He hasn’t had asthma that started yesterday; he’s had asthma and heath issues for some time, so don’t give me all that.

‘We have to be positive and move forward with sport, or sport will be dead!’

Trump went further than the chairman and criticised Hamilton for coming through qualifying and taking a spot at the Crucible before pulling out.

His place will not be given to anyone else, with first round opponent Kyren Wilson getting a bye to the last 16.

‘I find it very hard on the other people that he has taken the opportunity from,’ said Trump. ‘I think this was announced with enough time to know that there was going to be a crowd during this tournament.

‘Before the qualifying started, he should have just pulled out completely and given someone else a chance. He was playing under no pressure to qualify when everyone was trying their life out to get there.’

Judd Trump is returning to the Crucible to defend his World Championship title this week (Picture: Getty Images)

Hamilton downed Scott Donaldson in the final round of qualifying and Trump was certain how he would be feeling after Hamilton dropped out of the tournament.

‘I’d be very annoyed,’ said the world number one. ‘On one hand, he had the chance to beat him and you could say he was beaten fair and square.

‘But Anthony Hamilton will have known in the back of his head that he wasn’t playing in this event so he had no pressure compared to some of the other players, including Scott, who is trying his life out to get there for the second time. it is so special to all of the players that I think it probably deteriorates your game five or 10 per cent and that can be the difference between getting there and not getting there.

‘Anthony was on a free roll, no pressure knowing that he isn’t going to turn up, which is completely unfair and I don’t think any player should be that selfish to do that.’

Hamilton has since apologised to his qualifying opponents – Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson – saying he only truly considered his options after reaching the Crucible.

‘It has been a really difficult decision for me,’ said Hamilton. ‘I was extremely impressed by the way that WST and their partners ran the qualifying rounds, they made the players feel totally safe.

‘And I realise they have followed all of the government guidelines and implemented extensive measures for the main event at the Crucible. However due to my health condition, after careful consideration I have decided not to play in the final stages.

‘I want to apologise to my opponents at the qualifiers, Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson, and assure them that I had every intention of playing at the Crucible. But it was only after I finished the qualifying rounds that I was able to do a full personal risk assessment based on the latest information and discussions with WST.

‘I am absolutely gutted not to be playing because it is the best tournament and the Crucible is the home of snooker. I wish everyone the best and hope the event is a great success.’

MORE: Judd Trump has unique chance to grasp greatness with World Snooker Championship glory

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan: World Snooker Championship players are lab rats in risk not worth taking

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