- The Hong Kong Masters will be held from October 6 to 9.
- Ronnie O’Sullivan will be the main attraction, but he will play inside a Covid-secured “bubble”.
- The local governing body said that it could be the biggest crowd ever to watch a live snooker match.
When Hong Kong’s top snooker tournament comes back after a five-year break, world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be the main attraction, but he will play inside a Covid-secured “bubble.”
The Hong Kong Masters will be held from October 6 to 9 at a venue with 10,000 seats. The local governing body said that it could be the biggest crowd ever to watch a live snooker match.
In 2017, Neil Robertson beat O’Sullivan in the final of the Masters, which was the last time it was held. Along with Judd Trump, Mark Selby, and John Higgins, they will all be back.
The city in China is trying to get its sports scene back on track after the pandemic, but Vincent Law of the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council said that the city’s “harsh” anti-virus measures, which are a less strict version of China’s “zero-Covid” policy, have left many of the world’s best players puzzled.
Law told reporters, “They don’t understand why Hong Kong, an international city, is still lagging behind in anti-epidemic policies,”
The six foreign players will have to be kept away from the rest of the community in a “closed loop” like at the Beijing Olympics. Law said that the players were not happy about this.
It means players can’t hang out with fans much and can’t leave the competition site or their hotels. The government is still working out the details, though.
Marco Fu of Hong Kong and Ng On-yee, the three-time women’s world champion, will also play in the tournament.
Hong Kong’s sports scene, which has been mostly cut off from the rest of the world for the past two years, is trying to make a comeback, but a recent rise in infections could make that hard to do.
Hong Kong’s athletic and swimming groups slammed local officials on Wednesday for putting limits on the size of two big races at the last minute.
One running race had to be cancelled, and the other, a cross-harbour swim in October, is still not sure if it will happen.
Law said he wasn’t as worried about the Hong Kong Masters because it was no more dangerous for locals than going to a stadium concert.
But it’s still not clear how appealing the event will be to tourists, since visitors to Hong Kong have to stay in their hotels for three days.
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