World Snooker Championship rescheduled to start on 31 July

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport

The World Snooker Championship, originally set to take place in April and May, has been rescheduled to start on 31 July at the Crucible Theatre.

The event was postponed on 20 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It will run for 17 days and be broadcast in full across BBC TV and online.

The World Snooker Tour (WST) says it will assess "government advice at the time" about the number of spectators allowed inside the Sheffield venue.

WST chairman Barry Hearn said the preference is to stage the event with a "full crowd as usual" inside the Crucible Theatre, which has a capacity of just under 1,000.

If that is not possible, "careful consideration" will be given to other scenarios, including a reduced crowd, playing the tournament behind closed doors, or postponing the event again.

"We are delighted to confirm new dates for this huge global sporting event which has an international television audience of 500 million people," said Hearn.

"The world is going through a very challenging period, but live sport can be a massive inspiration for the public and can boost morale.

"It is crucial for our 128 tour players to know we are doing everything we can to get our circuit going again as soon as it is considered safe to do so by the government.

"The players are self-employed and they need opportunities to earn, while we keep the health and safety of everyone involved in an event of this scale as a priority."

The top 16 ranked players in the world automatically earn their place in the tournament and are joined by 16 qualifiers, the dates for which are yet to be confirmed.

English world number one Judd Trump, who has won a record six ranking titles this season, beat John Higgins of Scotland in last year's final.

This year's best-of-35 frame final is scheduled to take place over two days, starting on Saturday, 15 August, with the winner receiving £500,000 in prize money.

Tickets for the tournament will automatically be transferred to the new dates. A refunds policy will be announced separately.