Masters: Snooker’s biggest invitational event to be played behind closed doors

Snooker’s biggest invitational event, the Masters, will be played without fans due to tighter Covid-19 restrictions in London.

Organisers had hoped to have up to 1,000 fans at each session at Alexandra Palace, with the tournament scheduled for 10-17 January.

World Snooker boss Barry Hearn called it a “huge disappointment to the fans”.

Those with tickets will have them transferred to the 2022 event unless they request a refund.

The decision follows discussions between World Snooker, the government and public health bodies.

World Snooker Tour chairman Hearn added: “It’s also frustrating for the players, who have missed the thrill of playing in front of their supporters.

“But as always we must keep the health and safety of everyone connected with our events at the top of our priorities.”

All tournaments so far this season have been played in a bio-secure bubble at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes without fans in attendance.

The last event to feature spectators was the World Championship final in August, when about 300 people were allowed in for the showpiece at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

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