Snooker chiefs have asked ticket holders if they want to be considered for a seat at this year’s Betfred World Snooker Championship after announcing they are in talks with the UK authorities about the possibility of fans attending.

The tournament is due to be staged behind closed doors at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre from the end of July after being postponed from its usual spot in April and May due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All fans with tickets have been contacted today (Monday) giving them the chance to state whether they want to be considered for a seat in the reduced capacity audience. World Snooker described an “unparalleled opportunity to be among the few fans present in the arena for one of the great events in sport”.

World Snooker Tour (WST) chairman Barry Hearn said: “Detailed discussions with the relevant organisations are ongoing and we are determined to explore every avenue. We realise that to attend the Betfred World Championship is a once in a lifetime experience for many fans, and for everyone in the arena it is a magical occasion.

“The highest priority of course is the health and safety of fans and everyone connected with the event, so spectators will only be allowed if we are confident that this priority can be met. But we are working hard towards making this happen if it is possible.”

The body said any fans attending the event, which is due to run from July 31 to August 16, would be strictly required to follow regulations on social distancing and sanitisation.

Ticket holders also have the option of a full refund, or a transfer of their order to the 2021 Betfred World Championship at the Crucible.

“If there are fans in the arena they will be witnessing a unique sporting occasion,” Hearn said. “This would be a golden ticket, for the very lucky few. We urge fans to let us know their preferred option as soon as possible.

“We have already staged two successful snooker events in recent weeks and led the way in terms of the return of live sport.”

Some indoor venues have now reopened in the UK, such as museums and art galleries, as well as pubs. Venues can only reopen if they can maintain social distancing rules.