Hong Kong Snooker All-Star Challenge organisers criticise fans and government amid chaos

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The organisers of the Hong Kong Snooker All-Star Challenge have blamed unhappy fans, and a lack of support from the government and the sport’s local governing body for chaos that marred the opening day of the event.

Fans who paid up to HK$ 3,380 (£340/$430/€398) for a ticket were left with seats that did not have a view of the table, while huge queues outside the Queen Elizabeth Stadium minutes before the beginning of play pushed back the start time.

The first ball of the opening match between Englishman Ronnie O’Sullivan and Wales’ Mark Williams was not potted until 13:51 local time.

Executive president of the event organiser Beyond Borders Sports Academy Gentle Hui said ticket price did not guarantee a good view and that fans needed to balance seeing the play with the chance of getting closer to the players.

Officials at Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council said they had not decided to help because of concerns over one of the co-hosts, while government funding was denied because organisers “lacked any experience” of hosting large events.

“The arrangements were chaotic, we were all waiting downstairs outside at the 13:00 start time,” said fan Barry Leung, who bought the most expensive category of ticket, according to South China Morning Post.

“The seats were not correctly numbered and labelled, but this really should have been done long ago.

“It’s also ridiculous that the seats for the most expensive tickets are placed horizontally, how are we supposed to watch, let alone the viewing angles if those seats are on the far ends.”

Hui hit back claiming that only a handful of fans were unhappy, accusing them of trying to “make a scene”.

The 3,500-seat arena was only partially filled before the opening match so organisers allowed people to pick their own seats, and promised to refund the difference in price if they moved to a cheaper section.

Hui then changed his mind to say each case “would be dealt with individually”.

He then went on to blame the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council for not helping with the event’s organisation. Council chair Vincent Law Wing-chung said support was refused as Hui’s company could not answer questions about its background and hosting experience.