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World Snooker

Beijing’s China Open becomes second most lucrative event on the snooker calendar after million-pound cash injection

Winner’s cheque will now be worth £225,000 at the April 1-8 event, almost tripling what the victory was worth last season

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 11:20am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 10:52pm

Governing body World Snooker announced on Sunday that the Beijing-based China Open will become only the second event on the tournament calendar to offer £1 million (HK$10.8 million) in prize money this season.

The bonanza is being put up by joint-promoters Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua Culture Tourism Development Ltd. Co. as part of a new four-year deal.

The cash injection means that the winner’s cheque will be worth £225,000 at the April 1-8 event, almost tripling what the victory was worth last season.

The move makes the event the second most lucrative on the tour behind the flagship World Championship, which is held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England and offers winning prize money of £425,000.

The China Open was first held in the Chinese capital in 2005 when a precocious Ding Junhui exploded onto the scene at 18 years old sparking a wave of interest in the sport across the country.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said the new deal cements the China Open as the top event in Asia.

“This is a fantastic announcement which establishes the China Open in Beijing as the flagship tournament in Asia,” Hearn said on worldsnooker.com.

At £1 million a year, Hong Kong can regain its status on the world snooker tour

“It’s remarkable to think that back in 2005 when this event was first staged, the total prize fund was only £200,000 and the top prize £30,000 – that shows how far we have come in the past 13 years in terms of the growth of snooker in China.

“This is a great deal for the players, whose earning opportunities have never been better, and the fans who have this superb event secured for the next four years. We look forward to working with the Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua teams for many years to come.”

Hong Kong hosted its first top-level event in the city since the early 1990s in 2017 as part of its 20th anniversary of the handover celebrations.

The event was a resounding success and Hearn said at the time that the future of the event depended on organisers securing £1 million in funding to continue to host the tournament.

On the chances of persisting with the Hong Kong event Hearn said: “We want them to say, ‘Bazza, we had a great time and snooker’s back. We have the funds’.

“The money is substantial, more than £1 million, but sport at the top level is expensive. I just need one phone call and despite my ongoing years, I’m on a plane [to Hong Kong] the next day to sign up.”