The SMPT have been monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus and the responses from respective Governments & health agencies.
In light of the of the World Health Organisations decision to upgrade the Covid-19 virus to a global pandemic and with the UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer’s timelines for the virus to reach its projected peak in the UK around the time of Belfast events we feel we have no other choice but to cancel the Belfast Open & World Masters on the 17th-19th April 2020.
We have not taken this decision lightly and wanted to give players as much notice as possible. We have a duty of care to all of our participants, supporters and team and take this very seriously. The spread of this virus and health of those in attendance is something we are not prepared to risk at one of our events. We have participants travelling from multiple countries which themselves have imposed different restrictions on public gatherings and travel, this is only going to increase over the coming days, weeks and months. The age range at our events is also very broad with participants over the age of 60 taking part, it’s been well documented that this age range is at greater risk from the virus.
We also felt that if the event was to go ahead then players may feel forced to attend due to their Ranking points and qualification for the World Cup. Again we feel we have a duty of care and we certainly did not want to put any pressure onto players to attend an event at a time when the virus is near its projected peak in the UK. Asking players to travel from all over Europe also seems irresponsible and goes against the values we have.
World Rankings, Order of Merit & World Cup
In terms of the World Rankings and Order of Merit. We will not be rearranging the World Masters so the 2019-20 season ends now with the rankings and order of merit as they currently stand. All the players in the top four positions in the Race to the World Cup will qualify for the World Cup in August. As the World Rankings are over a rolling 12 events they will continue from the UK Open in August.
All players will be receiving a full refund of their entry fee(s) for the Belfast Open and World Masters in accordance with our terms and conditions. We will be in contact with all of the players in the coming days to arrange the refunds.
On behalf of the SMPT we just wanted to say thank you for the support and we hope you understand the difficult decision we have had to make in what has been called the “worst health crisis in a generation”. There is such a great community spirit at the SMPT events and we wouldn’t want to risk any players or their families’ health.
We look forward to seeing you at one of our events next season and thank you for the support.