The China Open snooker tournament became the latest sporting event to fall victim to the coronavirus outbreak on Friday after global governing body World Snooker postponed this year’s edition.
“Following extensive consultation between WST, the WPBSA (World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association) and our many partners in China, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 China Open,” World Snooker said in a statement.
The tournament, which takes place annually in Beijing, is a flagship event on the snooker calendar and the last tournament in which players can earn ranking points before the start of the World Championship in April. Snooker is hugely popular in China and three-time UK Championship winner Ding Junhui is a star in his home nation. Cedric Soares on loan This year’s edition was set to be held between March 30 and April 5, but World Snooker said that “considering the current health and travel situation in China our highest priority has to be the welfare of our players, staff and the many fans who travel around China and beyond”. World Snooker added that it was looking for a later date for the tournament.
The postponement of the China Open comes after this month’s outbreak of coronavirus that has caused global panic and killed at least 213 people. A host of countries have limited or outright banned travel from China, while on Friday United Kingdom health officials confirmed two cases of the virus.
On Thursday the Chinese Football Association suspended all domestic football and postponed indefinitely the top-flight Chinese Super League season kick-off, due on February 22, in order to “carry out prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic”. Other events moved or cancelled include the World Indoor Athletics Championships, the women’s Olympic football qualifying and this month’s men’s alpine skiing World Cup event in Yanqing, which was shifted Thursday to Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria