On cue: Newly crowned world champion Mark Selby to star in handover festival of sport
Snooker tournament will fight for supremacy in crowded week of events, also featuring EPL Asia Trophy and volleyball grand prix
Newly crowned world champion Mark Selby is to head a strong contingent to Hong Kong this summer for an invitational tournament celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover.
A four-day event featuring eight of the best players in the world, including home favourite Marco Fu Ka-chun, will take place at Queen Elizabeth Stadium from July 20-23.
The Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council is finalising the players’ list which will be released next month, but world number one Selby, who became the fourth player to successfully defend his world title in Sheffield this month, is almost certain to participate.
“We have extended invitations to the players and are still waiting for their confirmation,” said Lena Lee, senior sports executive of the council.
“Our targets are the top eight players and if any one is not available, he will be replaced by the next player on the ranking list.
“But we can promise a very strong cast as this event is for the celebration of the handover and we are keen to secure the best players. After all, snooker is always a popular event among sports fans in Hong Kong.”
Lee also said former world number one Ronnie O’ Sullivan had also been approached, although the British player was no longer in the top eight.
“He is very popular in Hong Kong and a lot of people want to see him play,” she said. “He is now 14th in the world, but there are bound to be some players who cannot make it and O’ Sullivan will be an ideal replacement.”
The other top eight players are John Higgins, the losing finalist to Selby in the World Championship, Juud Trump, Ding Junhui, Barry Hawkins, Fu, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy. The council also hosted a similar event 10 years ago under the name of Europe versus Asia.
Lee was hopeful a hectic events calendar in late July would not affect the snooker.
“We know there will be three major international events on the same week – the EPL Asia Trophy, the FIVB volleyball world grand prix and snooker, but there is a very limited choice of dates for the celebration and hopefully it won’t affect us too much,” she said.
The Asia Trophy is tentatively scheduled for July 19 and 22, while the volleyball will take place at Hong Kong Coliseum from July 21-23.
This year, China, Japan, Russia and Serbia will feature in the Hong Kong volleyball leg, while the four teams in the Asia Trophy are Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.