Covid scare, no food, masks but tears of joy: what snooker Masters tells us before Hong Kong Sevens
- Hong Kong Masters proceeds in front of record-breaking audiences, though with eating outsourced to McDonald’s
- Its handling of Zhao Xintong’s Covid-19 infection differed from the approach that turned the city’s recent badminton championships into a farce
It is a story of interest to Covid-watchers, China-dwellers and Hong Kong Sevens ticket holders, because the Masters was a staging post, a step forward for sport in the city, and one embraced by a snooker-mad and event-starved public.
Money-spinner, but no dinner
The recommendation was to pop down the road to McDonald’s, where queues of 50 or more orders showed the folly of trying to feed a small stadium at a railway station kiosk – a situation that at the Sevens will be left to Deliveroo and Foodpanda.
Amid no little noise made about reviving the economy, it limited the potential takings for local vendors as well as snooker in Hong Kong, which is set to lose half of its public funding in April.
A case for easing Covid rules?
Which brings us to the Covid patient. There were concerns that the “0+3” exemption made for the players to access the venue could backfire, or merit criticism, after Zhao’s positive test.
That the Masters show went on unabated was a good look for the tournament, and for Hong Kong. It could even catch on.
Grand claims are made about sport’s capacity to unite people, bring about world peace and the like. In this instance, snooker, of all things, may just have shown a lead.