Judd Trump says O’Sullivan should withdraw over Crucible crowd concerns
Hamilton ‘selfish’ to withdraw from World Snooker Championship so late, says Trump
Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed that the sport’s top stars are being treated like “lab rats” Photograph: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Defending champion Judd Trump has told title rival Ronnie O’Sullivan he should join qualifier Anthony Hamilton in withdrawing from this year’s World Snooker Championship if he harbours genuine coronavirus concerns.
Hamilton, a chronic asthmatic, pulled out on Thursday citing health fears, following O’Sullivan’s claim that the sport’s top stars are being treated like “lab rats” over the decision to allow a limited of number of spectators into the tournament.
Trump, who will begin his quest to become the first first-time winner to retain the title against Tom Ford on Friday morning, branded the dissenting duo “selfish” for not pulling out earlier and giving other players a chance to share in the game’s biggest payday.
Trump said: “I have been around the game long enough to know that if there is a World Championship coming up he [O’Sullivan] is going to try and get the headlines.
“Of all people, Ronnie is probably the only one who doesn’t need the money, so I find it quite hard that he can enter it and have a go at what is going on. Just pull out and let someone else have a go.”
O’Sullivan had expressed sympathy for Hamilton, who said he had grave reservations about competing at the Crucible despite battling through the final qualifying round on Monday night. On Thursday, Hamilton issued a statement via World Snooker Tour in which he confirmed his withdrawal following a “personal risk assessment”, adding his apologies to Scott Donaldson and Sam Craigie, the two players he beat in qualifying.
The lateness of his decision angered Trump, who said: “I find it very hard on the other people that he has taken the opportunity from – I think this was announced with enough time to know there was going to be a crowd at this tournament.
“There is a lot of money to be played for in this tournament. A lot of low-ranked players struggle to put food on the table and especially with things going on, you’ve got to try to earn a living.
“People need to think of the bigger picture sometimes and try not to be selfish and give others the opportunity to provide as well.”
Tournament officials confirmed that eighth seed Kyren Wilson, who had been due to face Hamilton on Friday, has been given a bye into the second round. But the Nottingham player will still be allowed to keep his £20,000 (€22,000) prize money and ranking points.
World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn also expressed his frustration, telling talkSPORT: “You’ve got to love Ronnie O’Sullivan’s comments. They come up every time he wants a bit of publicity, looks for a nice little angle – ‘lab rats’ is just a phrase to guarantee a headline.”