Reigning champion Judd Trump has criticised Anthony Hamilton for his “selfish” late withdrawal from this year’s World Snooker Championship citing fears over coronavirus.
The 49-year-old Hamilton battled through two qualifying rounds and was due to face Kyren Wilson in the first phase on Friday afternoon, but the eighth seed has now been given a bye into round two.
Hamilton, who suffers from chronic asthma, said it had been his intention to play in the tournament but he withdrew following a “personal risk assessment”, after criticising the decision to allow a limited number of spectators into the Crucible.
The lateness of his decision angered Trump, who insisted Hamilton should have pulled out prior to the qualifying tournament, and given other players the opportunity to reach the final stages.
Trump said: “I find it very hard on the other people that he has taken the opportunity from – I think this was announced with enough time to know there was going to be a crowd at this tournament.
“There is a lot of money to be played for in this tournament. A lot of low ranked players struggle to put food on the table and especially with things going on, you’ve got to try to earn a living.
“People need to think of the bigger picture sometimes and try not to be selfish and give others the opportunity to provide as well.”
Hamilton had first expressed misgivings about the decision to make the Crucible a pilot event for the reintroduction of fans in the wake of his win over Scott Donaldson on Monday night.
He had called the move – which makes it the first indoor event to allow fans since the lockdown – “ridiculous” and admitted he had serious misgivings about playing in the qualifiers.
In a statement issued by World Snooker Tour, Hamilton apologised to the two players whom he beat in qualifying, Donaldson and Sam Craigie, and said he had made his decision after undertaking a “personal risk assessment.”
Hamilton said: “It has been a really difficult decision for me. I was extremely impressed by the way that WST and their partners ran the qualifying rounds, they made the players feel totally safe.
“However due to my health condition, after careful consideration I have decided not to play in the final stages.”
World Snooker Tour said the four-time quarter-finalist will still receive the £20,000 he earned by reaching the last 32.
Hamilton added: “I want to apologise to my opponents at the qualifiers, Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson, and assure them that I had every intention of playing at the Crucible.
“But it was only after I finished the qualifying rounds that I was able to do a full personal risk assessment based on the latest information and discussions with WST.”
Hamilton’s late notice withdrawal also angered WST chairman Barry Hearn, who echoed Trump when he told talkSPORT: “The question I pose is why did he not withdraw before the qualifying competition, because by getting through the qualifiers he has effectively stopped someone else from going and earning a living.
“He (Hamilton) knew the situation. He hasn’t had asthma that started yesterday. He’s had asthma and health issues for some time.”