Anthony Hamilton has pulled out of the World Snooker Championship because of concerns about spectators being present at the Crucible.
The 49-year-old, who suffers from asthma, this week described the decision to let fans back in as ‘ridiculous’ and warned it could lead to a person dying ‘for no reason at all’.
Hamilton, 49, qualified for the tournament last weekend and had been drawn to play Kyren Wilson, who will now get a bye into the second round.
Anthony Hamilton has pulled out of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible
But World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has criticised Hamilton for going through qualifying when he knew crowds would be allowed at the Crucible – therefore denying another player a first-round place worth £20,000.
Hearn told talkSPORT: ‘Anthony Hamilton withdrew yesterday having gone through the qualifying competition.
‘He decided he’s going to withdraw because he’s got asthma and he is worried about his own health.
‘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.
Barry Hearn has strongly criticised Hamilton for denying a fellow player a first-round spot
‘He entered a competition knowing that while he was in that competition that there was going to be fans present. He knew the situation.
‘He hasn’t had asthma which started yesterday. He’s had asthma and health issues for some time.’
The World Snooker Championship has been selected as a Government test event for the safe return of spectators.
It will be the first indoor sporting event with fans since the Covid-19 lockdown in March, with five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan saying snooker players are being treated like ‘lab rats’.
However, defending world champion Judd Trump has also hit out at Hamilton, describing the Nottingham potter as ‘selfish’.
Judd Trump, who will be looking to defend his title, has described Hamilton as ‘selfish’
Trump said: ‘I find it very hard on the other people that he has taken the opportunity from. Before the qualifying started, he should have just pulled out completely and given someone else a chance.
‘He 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. It is completely unfair and I don’t think any player should be that selfish to do that.
‘There is a lot of money to be played for in this tournament. A lot of the low ranked players struggle to put food on the table and especially with things going on, you’ve got to try and 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.’