World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has today announced that it has taken the difficult decision that no further events will take place during the remainder of 2020, with the aim of resuming competition from January 2021.
Following the cancellation of May’s Derby Open as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures introduced by the UK government, WDBS and its partners have since continued to regularly review the position in respect of future events as the crisis has developed.
Although we have been encouraged by the re-opening of some snooker facilities within England this month, there remain several challenges still to be overcome before large scale amateur snooker competitions, including WDBS events, can safely resume in the UK.
The health and safety of our players and officials is of paramount importance to us and WDBS events by their nature include players with ongoing serious health issues linked to their disability. With many players requiring carers or assistance, as well as the presence of officials and venue staff, it is very difficult at this time to enforce and respect appropriate social distancing in line with the current guidance issued by the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards, in particular taking into account the size of seating areas typically found at snooker clubs.
For example, current guidance indicates that tables to be used are at least ‘one apart’ meaning that potentially at a venue housing 10 tables, only five would be available for use at any one time. This, and several other guidelines currently in place mean that it is not practical for tournaments the size of regular WDBS events to run for the foreseeable future.
We understand that some players have seen professional snooker being played on television recently and have asked why WDBS events cannot resume under the same conditions. Extensive procedures have been carried out by World Snooker Tour to make these events possible, including the testing of all personnel present for COVID-19 to minimise any risk of infection. The cost of this testing and the other safety procedures necessary is significant and is not something that WDBS is able to incur.
In all the circumstances, the WDBS board has therefore taken the unanimous decision that it would not be appropriate to stage further events this year. We understand that this decision will come as a disappointment to our players who are keen to return to competition as soon as possible, however, we are committed to protecting the health of our players and officials.
We would like to thank each of our venues, namely Redz Snooker Club, Cueball Derby and the Tradewell Snooker Club for their understanding and support and look forward to returning to all three venues as soon as we can.
WDBS remains committed to disability snooker and to staging further competitions as soon as it is possible to do so safely. It is our intention at this time that WDBS will return in January 2021, subject to the continued relaxation of the lockdown restrictions that we are currently witnessing.
During the past five years WDBS has grown significantly since our first event back in 2015 and despite this unprecedented interruption of our competitions, we are all looking forward to returning stronger than ever in the New Year.
In the meantime, we will continue to keep our players and fans up to date with our preparations for the return of WDBS competition and we look forward to seeing everyone again as soon as possible.