The upcoming World Snooker Championship is one of the events that have been earmarked to host a "reduced crowd" in an effort by the British government to start opening up sporting events to live spectators. However, snooker superstar Ronnie O'Sullivan thinks that it would be an "unnecessary risk" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to the BBC, a limited number of spectators will be allowed to watch the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. The event is set to take place from July 31 to August 16, and will be the first indoor sporting event to allow the presence of spectators since the onset of the pandemic.

Reportedly, those who wish to watch the games live will need to follow a "code of conduct" as determined by the government. Despite this, O'Sullivan does not think it's worth taking the risk. "Having people there but not enough people doesn't look good. Either pack it out and say we don't actually care or just go 'we aren't having anyone'," he said.

Nevertheless, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn thinks that other players will be thrilled about the new development. He stated that many players have expressed their concern that the event won't be the same without any fans present.

Five-time world champion O'Sullivan insists that there shouldn't be a problem if they have to play behind closed doors. He thinks that televised events should be enough and that the safety of everyone involved should be the priority given the risks involved.

"I just think it's an unnecessary risk. I just don't think you want to be putting people's lives at risk. You look at the NHS and you think this is like a war at the moment and it's those people who have been flat out, and you watch what they go through, and anything to take the stress off them is paramount," he said. Despite his concerns, it appears that the Sheffield event is set to push through with an audience.

England is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe with over 295,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections. The country has also recorded over 45,000 deaths so far.

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan [Reuters]