Snooker's decision to play the percentage shot by the giving the sport a staycation has proved to be a wise one. World number 56 Daniel Wells was unfortunately robbed of a shot at the world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan on Tuesday evening in the first round of the European Masters due to a positive Covid-19 test on Tuesday morning, but in the bigger picture it proves there has been valuable foresight in the bid to keep the sport alive and kicking.

The 2019 World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson also tested positive with the fall-out seeing his mate Elliott Slessor, who was unsurprisingly bitterly disappointed, forced to withdraw from the event due to being in his company. Wells' contact with David Lilley and Michael White resulted in a similar frustrating outcome for two more players through no fault of their own. They are unlikely to be the last snooker players to suffer such a fate.

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The nature of the infection means you can feel fine, and still transmit it. In such a respect, snooker has rightly taken no chances by refusing to put wealth before health.

With no events in China due to the global pandemic, organisers World Snooker Tour made the decision after the World Championship in August to ring fence the sport by hosting the first eight tournaments of the 2020/21 campaign – including the Championship League, English and Northern Ireland Opens – behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

It seems to be the work of a snooker soothsayer amid the latest news that the UK could be teetering on the brink of more strict lockdown measures in the forthcoming winter months.

As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the abandonment of plans on Tuesday to allow fans to watch live sport events in England due to a worrying rise in coronavirus cases, snooker was ahead of the curve having successfully run test events with the Championship League and Tour Championship staged in Milton Keynes in June.

"Every endeavour has been taken to minimise the risk of tournaments being postponed over the coming months. Having already successfully held tournaments at the Marshall Arena, we have demonstrated the ability to proceed in a safe manner under lockdown conditions," said WST in a statement.

"We clearly hope that there will be no need to return to lockdown, at local or national level, but holding these events in Milton Keynes gives us the best possible chance to ensure they are delivered to our broadcasters and partners, as well players and fans."

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In hindsight, the call to remain in splendid isolation amid times of self-isolation has given professional snooker players the best chance possible to continue earning a living. No matter how unpalatable the experience is to players who thrive off the static of a static crowd, that call has proved to be completely correct in terms of protecting the health of players and officials and the well-being of the public.

Any notion of players being treated like lab rats by playing before fans as Ronnie O'Sullivan said prior to the World Championship in Sheffield last month has been dismissed in preference to a consistency of calendar, venue and pure competition. In times of violent fluctuation, snooker has as much certainty as any professional sport that it can proceed as safely as possible without disruption.

It is fool's gold to consider a return to full houses when the virus seems to be under less control than a white ball being hammered around the angles. In such a respect, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn should be applauded for keeping sponsors and broadcasters invested in the sport while also meeting the demands of the players for meaningful and monied competition.

Safety first is the way ahead for snooker rather than rash decisions that are governed by a rapidly changing climate. Snooker was made for TV, but never has it been more ripe for broadcast than now. The preference to opt for the bubble keeps it out of trouble as much as possible.

Desmond Kane

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