World Snooker Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan says he wants 'protection' from fans at Crucible

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan says he wants “protection” from fans at the World Snooker Championship.

The Crucible will be around a third full when the tournament starts on Saturday with plans for it to reach capacity for the final as part of a government pilot scheme.

However, the World Snooker Tour has advised players not to pose for selfies or sign autographs while in Sheffield.

“You have to try and get rid of all the risk there is,” said O’Sullivan.

“You are here to do a job. The first thing is to pass the Covid-19 test. If you don’t pass the test you can’t play, so as sportsmen we can’t work if we get ill.

“It’s not that you don’t want to mingle with the fans. It’s just that you don’t want to pull out of the tournament.

"Hopefully the players get a little bit of protection from World Snooker so that we don't have to fend off over-excited fans or someone who might have had a drink that wants to get in your space."

O’Sullivan begins his quest for a modern-era record-equalling seventh world title on Saturday morning when he faces debutant Mark Joyce.

The 45-year-old drew level with Ray Reardon and boyhood hero Steve Davis on six world crowns at the rearranged 2020 World Championship in August.

However, he says he could not care less about the prospect of matching Stephen Hendry’s record at the Crucible and intends to treat his time at the tournament as a “holiday”.

“Winning the World Championship has always seemed an anti-climax to me, the same as walking out as defending champion. I’ve never quite got the same enthusiasm as everyone else talking about it.

“I just enjoy playing. There is not that desire to want rack up titles. It’s just my job. I do the best I can and I move on to the next one.

“If I wasn’t to do well in the tournament it’s not the end of the world. I’ve got a shop and I’ve got some great running routes and it’s just like a holiday. I’ve just got to go and hit a few balls – I’d rather not, but that is part of the job I suppose.”

Original article 16.04.21 on the BBC Sport website

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