Darts bosses say World Championship at Alexandra Palace WILL carry on, despite Michael Van Gerwen’s claim the tournament is a ‘Covid BOMB’ and with fears more players will be kicked out after testing positive
- The PDC World Championship has been rocked by Covid cases among players
- Michael van Gerwen was the third player to get the virus in London this week
- Vincent Van Der Voort and Raymond Van Barneveld also tested positive
- Wales’ Gerwyn Price led calls to postpone the tournament but changed his mind
- The PDC have no intention to postpone the tournament which ends on Monday
- Around 3,000 fans will attend the Championships at Alexandra Palace every day
World Championship darts will carry on at London’s Alexandra Palace over the next week amid calls to postpone the tournament due to coronavirus fears.
The popular PDC tournament has been rocked in recent days after three-time champion Michael Van Gerwen pulled out of the competition due to a positive Covid-19 test – the third player to contract the illness since the contest began earlier this month.
Vincent Van Der Voort pulled out of his third round match with James Wade after a positive diagnosis, while Raymond Van Barneveld revealed he picked up Covid-19 after losing to Rob Cross in round two.
The World Championship is currently at the quarter-final stage and concludes on Monday, with the winner of that day’s final picking up £500,000 – the largest cheque in darts.
After the asymptomatic Van Gerwen was forced to withdraw at the third round, World No 1 Gerwyn Price led calls to postpone the tournament as it was being ‘devalued’ by the withdrawal of top players – but did retract his comments on Wednesday.
World Championship darts will carry on at Alexandra Palace despite coronavirus concerns
Darts icon Michael Van Gerwen was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19
But it is understood the PDC do not want to postpone any part of the competition as the Darts Masters is set for the last week of January and they do not want a clash.
Van Gerwen revealed he was ‘disappointed, confused and angry’ to pull out of the tournament as he ‘did everything possible to avoid’ the Omicron variant that has caused a spike in London cases.
Price then posted on Instagram that the ‘tournament needs to be postponed’ and while he took those comments back later on Wednesday – he did point out that a delay to the latter stages would not be something he’d ‘disagree with’.
The Welsh arrows star, who pulled out of Premier League Darts in April of this year due to Covid, posted in a separate Instagram story: ‘I’ve been in their position so I feel for the players that have had to withdraw.
World No 1 Gerwyn Price led calls to postpone the tournament but took his comments back
‘There’s a lot of hard work gone into getting the World Championships on so postponing probably isn’t the best option but an option I wouldn’t disagree with, time to keep myself safe and out of touch.’
Scotland’s Gary Anderson, meanwhile, wants to ‘do away’ with the tournament this year as the withdrawal of individual players is not fair.
‘To me it’s not right, he said. ‘You’ve got players losing money, got players gaining money, and it’s gonna be a kind of shambles for the next few months in the rankings I think.
‘What can you do, shut us down? Go by everyone in the first round who was fit, winners get paid, losers get paid, call it a day. Do away with it this year.’
England’s Cross, who won the World Championships three years ago, revealed he would happily give up the chance to win the £500,000 prize money if he tested positive in any of his final matches of the championship.
2018 champion Rob Cross admitted he would have no issues withdrawing if he got Covid-19
Cross, who will now face Anderson in round four, claimed: ‘Even if it (testing positive) happened to me on the morning of the final I’d have to pull out.
‘I have a 75-year-old nan who lives with me. She has always been the greatest thing in my life. If I wasn’t honest, I could kill ten people around me with Covid. You can’t just risk it.’
While sporting events are being played behind closed doors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland due to the recent Covid variant, England are not bringing in Covid restrictions before the New Year.
Around 80,000 darts fans, around 3,000 per day, are set to attend the World Championships at Alexandra Palace – and supporters were treated to a fantastic evening of darts on Wednesday night.
Scottish player Anderson came from 3-0 down to beat Ian White 4-3 to advance to a meeting with Cross, while Michael Smith’s tie-break victory over Jonny Clayton was branded one of the best darts matches ever.