World Championship 2021: Ronnie O'Sullivan wants Crucible vaccine passports after mum's Covid battle
World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has revealed he feared for his mum Maria's life when she battled Covid-19. O'Sullivan believes the disease is "not the flu" and points to the damage it can do to the lungs. With 300 fans set to be allowed access to each session of the World Championship next month as part of a UK government pilot scheme, O'Sullivan wants vaccine passports for all ticket holders.
Spectators were allowed inside the venue for the opening day and final weekend of last year's pandemic-delayed event in August which O'Sullivan triumphed 18-8 against Kyren Wilson to equal Steve Davis and Ray Reardon's modern day haul of six world titles.
While welcoming the return of a crowd, the world number two feels it is imperative members of the public should be vaccinated as part of a "wise" and "sensible" policy to protect fellow fans and players inside the intimate 980-capacity venue.
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“It’ll be nice to have some crowds in. Hopefully they’re all vaccinated-up. Maybe have a vaccine passport," said O'Sullivan, as reported by the Sun.
“I’d imagine that would be part of the new criteria if you’re to go into any indoors event.
"There will be a few people who have been double jabbed-up and looking forward to getting some tickets.
We’ve had a year now to understand the illness and everybody knows – no matter who you are, you don’t want to be put in a dangerous situation.
“No matter what your age. I’d imagine it would be much more sensible and wise if people are allowed in that they were less likely to be passing on a deadly disease.
“You’d like to think that would probably be a standard sort of baseline of making that decision. We know a lot more about it now. We all know people that have had it.
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“I'm a lot more respectful of what Covid can do to you, no matter your age. We know it’s not the flu," added the record 37-times ranking event winner, who has struggled with the demands of constant Covid testing to compete on the World Snooker Tour behind closed doors in Milton Keynes over the past year.
If it gets on the lungs then you are in trouble. I'm sure everyone involved in snooker and sport, they wouldn’t want to put anybody at risk, if they value someone’s life.
Numbers for the 45th staging of the event in Sheffield will be decided by local authorities and tournament organisers, but there is speculation football's FA Cup final at Wembley could allow 20,000 fans to attend on 15 May.
"These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing," said the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
“We will be guided by the science and medical experts, but will work flat out to make that happen. We want to get the people back to enjoying what they love and ensure some of our most important growth industries get back on their feet."
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“This has been selected as part of the science-led Events Research Programme.
“We’re proud to have been chosen as a pilot event and it will be fantastic for the players to be able to experience the unique atmosphere which a crowd at the Crucible can create.
“As always, the players can be assured that health and safety is the highest priority.”
Apart from the reduced crowd at the Crucible, snooker has been played behind closed doors over the past year with all events being hosted by the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes under strict Covid-19 testing guidelines.
The Welsh Open was staged behind closed doors at Celtic Manor in Wales with the Tour Championship next week under similar conditions at the same venue.