Championship League snooker tournament to take place in isolation
ITV4 is to host the first live free-to-air sport since lockdown with coverage of next month’s Championship League snooker.
The tournament is to be played behind closed doors at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena, with players, officials and staff staying on-site for the duration of the 11-day tournament. All participants will be virus-tested prior to entering the building and will remain in isolation once they are knocked out of the competition.
Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson are among those vying to be crowned the 2020 Champion of Champions and take home the £30,000 top prize. Players are drawn from the 128 World Snooker Tour card holders, with the top 64 who enter offered a place.
ITV Sport’s presenting team, led by Jill Douglas, will host from home while commentators David Hendon, Phil Yates and Dominic Dale will cover the event on site under social distancing rules.
ITV’s coverage runs from 3pm to 10pm across 11 days. It kicks off on 1 June with eight days of matches between four players in each of 16 groups. The 16 winners then go on to the next round, with the four best performers playing in the final group on 11 June.
To comply with antiviral measures, players will sit at least two metres apart during matches, with referees also keeping their distance and no guests allowed.
Matchroom Sport chair Barry Hearn said snooker is the first major sport to return to TV “because of the hard work and preparation we have done during the lockdown to make sure we are ready to get going again as soon as it is legal”.
He added: “For the fans out there who are starved of live sport it will be a fantastic boost and a very welcome diversion from these tough times we are all going through.”
ITV Sport production controller Mark Demuth said: “We know fans have been missing live action since the lockdown has been in place, so we’re delighted to bring snooker back, marking the return of live sport to free-to-air TV.
“Behind the scenes, our team has been working with the event organisers to ensure strict adherence to guidelines to safeguard the well-being of all involved, which is our priority.”
This article first appeared on Broadcast