Ding Junhui slams ‘unsafe and money-motivated’ decision to allow fans at the Masters

Ding Junhui may not play at the Masters (Picture: Getty Images)

Ding Junhui is not happy about the potential return of fans at the Masters in January, believing that it is unsafe and the decision has been made with solely money in mind.

After the change in protocol was announced by Government, WST confirmed that they will be looking to see fans return at Alexandra Palace in January.

Up to 1,000 fans could attend each session of the event, which runs from 10-17 January, with WST Chairman Barry Hearn confirming in a statement: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome our fabulous fans back to live snooker events. We are reliant on Government advice but we will do everything in our powers to make this a reality.’

The three-time UK champion has been vocal in his criticism of the move, though, claiming that it would clearly not be safe, in terms of spreading coronavirus and the move is purely money-motivated.

‘The one thing, if they think it’s safe, they will not make that decision to let 1,000 people in,’ Ding told Eurosport.

‘That’s what I thought. We know it’s not safe. But for what? Money. It’s all anybody cares [about].’

Asked whether he would choose to play in the tournament, the Chinese star said: ‘I’m not sure, I can’t tell now, I don’t know.

‘It’s still two months to go so we’ll see what happens.’

Ding’s comments came after his second round defeat to David Grace at the UK Championship, ending the defence of the title he won last year.

He had made a similar statement after his first round win, though, saying: ‘New cases are getting higher every day and you just can’t take the risk for the players – no players, no tournament.

‘I think it is not good timing because we are in a room, it’s not like football grounds which are outside. There’s much more chance to catch the virus than outside in a stadium.

‘It’s too risky. If they put some crowd in there I will think about that and other options.

‘I wouldn’t be fully concentrating on the table – if somebody coughs behind me or whatever happens, I would be thinking about something else, not playing snooker.’

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