Snooker: World championship set to have capacity crowd for final at the Crucible

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(Reuters) - Sheffield's Crucible Theatre will welcome back fans for the world championship this month, starting with 33% capacity in the first round and no restrictions on capacity for the final in May, event organisers said on Wednesday.

The tournament is a part of the British government's Events Research Programme where pilot events are being held to assess whether large events can be held in closed settings without social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The venue is set to operate at 33% capacity for the first round with social distancing in place before capacity is increased to 50% for the second round, 75% for the quarter-finals and semi-finals and 100% for the final.

"It will not be possible to avoid different parties sitting alongside one another," organisers said in a statement.

"Social distancing will not be expected under this capacity although some mitigation procedures will be required to reduce the risk of transmission including wearing face coverings in the venue."

All spectators who wish to attend the April 17-May 3 event must undertake a COVID-19 test before the event as well as five days after. However, minors will not be allowed to attend the event.

Last year's tournament was postponed from April-May to July-August due to the pandemic and only a limited crowd was allowed to watch the final as Ronnie O'Sullivan claimed a sixth world title.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)