/ Snooker

Stephen Hendry thinks it is inevitable the world championship will be played in China

Updated: Sunday, 06 May 2012 12:54

Stephen Hendry: "There are five major tournaments in China and only three in the UK so it's going there at an alarming rate."
Stephen Hendry: "There are five major tournaments in China and only three in the UK so it's going there at an alarming rate."

Seven-times world snooker champion Stephen Hendry thinks it is inevitable the world championship will be played in China at some point in the future.

Hendry, who announced his retirement from the game he dominated in the 1990s earlier this week, thinks China could host the sport's top tournament.

But Barry Hearn, a director of World Snooker Limited which promotes the game globally, has committed the world championships to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield as long as the support of the BBC and Sheffield Council is retained.

Asked if he thought the world championship would be staged in China, Hendry told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: "I do think it's inevitable.

"I can't see it happening in the next 10 years but I think (it will) in the future.

"There are five major tournaments in China and only three in the UK so it's going there at an alarming rate."

Hearn has seen the sport grow rapidly in China in recent years and refused to rule out the game's top tournament moving there.

"You couldn't rule it out because you could never say never," Hearn said.

"The game is on the up at the moment but China's the highest profile because everyone fears the whole thing's going off to China. That's not going to happen.

"They're a very demanding customer, they like to put up lots of money to play for and encourage their own players to try and win.

"What we do say, as controlling the professional game of snooker, we believe that the Crucible is our Wimbledon."

Hearn added: "While we have the support of our national broadcaster, the BBC, which we do and the support of the people of Sheffield and Sheffield Council we're staying where the history is.

"Whilst you can never say never, while we've got the support of everyone we're staying where we are."

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