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Gibraltar Open games take place without referees due to coronavirus concerns

Gibraltar Open games take place without referees due to coronavirus concerns
© Reuters
The reigning world champion will face China's Li Hang next.

Snooker world champion Judd Trump remains in the hunt at the Gibraltar Open after claiming three wins on Saturday to reach the tournament’s last 16.

In an empty arena, the world number one toppled amateur Lee Prickman and Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo earlier in the day before wrapping up the hat-trick with a late 4-1 win over world number 34 Martin O’Donnell.

Trump will face China’s Li Hang next. Li booked his spot in the last 16 with a 4-3 victory over Mark Joyce.

Coronavirus precautions made for unusual playing conditions at the £50,000 tournament, with some matches even taking place without referees.

The event is one of the few in Europe not postponed this weekend after Friday saw a widespread shutdown due to fears over the virus.

Crowds at new venue the Europa Sports Complex were initially capped at 100 but the decision was made on Saturday morning to play behind closed doors following consultation with Gibraltar’s government.

Of more concern to players, though, was the lack of referees on certain tables – with players instead retrieving balls from the pockets for each other.

World number 76 Alfie Burden posted several tweets about the situation on the tables away from those used for feature matches on Eurosport and its streaming service.

Citing concerns about germs as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Burden – whose win over Ian Burns had a referee – insisted he would “categorically refuse” to perform the task if asked by tournament organisers.

Adding to the sense of confusion, Bingham revealed in the same interview that he had been unaware of the change of venue until told by someone at his hotel the evening before his first-round win over Gerard Greene.

He has since been eliminated by Ben Woollaston.

Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh were among those to join Trump and Woollaston in the last 16.

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