The snooker chiefs confirmed that “several” players withdrew from this year’s World Cup, which is due to start later this month in Sheffield. None of the players involved are considered to be among the top 16 players in the world today, which means they would have to participate in the qualifying rounds that start on July 21st.
Earlier this week, reports in China suggested that up to 10 players had declined the opportunity to participate in the tournament, citing concerns over coronavirus and quarantine regulations. Former finalist Ding Junhui, who lost the Coral Tour Championship last month, has indicated he will participate, while Yan Bingtao, the other Chinese player in the top 16, is in Sheffield and is unaffected.
But former world number 5 Marco Fu, three-time female world champion Ng On-yee, and Zhou Yuelong, who beat Mark Allen in the first round last year, are among those who have retired.
In a statement, the World Snooker Tour noted: “Several players have indicated that they have decided not to travel to the UK and the draw for the qualifying rounds will be held after the registration deadline which ends on July 6”
Despite continuing uncertainty about quarantine regulations that could affect foreign player arrivals, WPBSA President Jason Ferguson said he was confident that the process would run smoothly. Ferguson said: “Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that all players have a chance to play in the Betfred World Championship.
“We knew that this would be a huge task in the weather, but not impossible – and now we have reached a point where players can make their own choice. We have done everything we can to support our player association. We appreciate that a small number have indicated their decision not to come to the UK, but the vast majority will run and, without a doubt, the show should continue. “