Fans speak as World Snooker Championships get underway at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre

Sports fans made their way to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday for the World Snooker Championships, the first live sporting event to have spectators as part of a government led events research programme.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 7:00 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:18 pm

The biggest event in the snooker calendar made a return on April 17, with the sport’s elite competitors battling it out inside Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

The annual tournament is one of several pilot events being used in a trial scheme to help enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events following the coronavirus lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced government plans for the research programme, which has started to be trialled at the world championships.

Fans Robert Brittle and Paul Underhill who have attended the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible under COVID-19 rules.

The Crucible venue will operate at a 33 per cent spectator capacity which will increase as the tournament progresses and it is hoped that there will be no capacity restrictions in place for the final on Sunday 2 to Monday 3 May.

People attending will have to take a lateral flow test for Covid-19 prior to attending the event and five days after attending the event at the Crucible.

Ministers in England are hoping the scheme will allow the safe return of events, including sports matches, conferences and concerts, and entry to places where social distancing is hard to maintain, like theatres, nightclubs and bars.

Boris Johnson said: “We have made huge strides over the past few months with our vaccine programme, and everyone in the country has made huge sacrifices to get us to this stage in our recovery from Covid-19.

Spectators make their way through security as the World Snooker championships under strict COVID-19 rules

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”

The Star spoke to snooker fans outside the Crucible.

Paul Underhill, who travelled from the Midlands to watch the snooker with Robert Brittle, said: “It’s brilliant, it’s not as good as it is when it’s a full house, but it’s just as good; we came for the final last year.

“The organisation is good, they’ve got that right, haven’t they? They’re looking after everybody. It’s a bit of a rigmarole; there are about four different things to get through, but that’s alright, it’s dealt with.

Spectators make their way through security as the World Snooker championships under strict COVID-19 rules

“It’s one of the first sporting events back in the country, isn’t it; we stayed at an apartment overnight and got up quite excited. We’ve got tickets to the final as well, that will be a full house, we’re looking forward to that.”

Another fan from Nottingham said: “Me and my friend go every year and we couldn’t go last year because there were no crowds, so it is really nice to be back here, and it’s still the same crucible.

“The fact that it is only a third full doesn’t really make that much difference to the tension and the atmosphere.

He added: “I think it’s under control, but it’s felt like quite a lot of hassle because you’ve had to get two tests to come here, you’ve got to get all your stuff sorted out, but it was really straightforward.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

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