Sixteen professional snooker stars have rejected the opportunity to play in this year's World Championships, which start in Sheffield later this month.

China's world number 22 Zhou Yuelong, who stunned Mark Allen in the first round last year, is the highest-ranked player on the list of withdrawals, which also includes two-time semi-finalist Marco Fu.

The majority of withdrawals are Chinese players who have cited coronavirus and quarantine concerns.

However, former finalist Ding Junhui has confirmed he will play in the tournament.

Among those to benefit with an invitation to compete is 14-year-old Ukrainian Iulian Boiko, who will become the youngest player ever in the qualifying rounds.

Boiko, who does not turn 15 until September, has recently been granted a tour card for the next two seasons.

Also among those in the qualifying draw, which is set to be made this week, are former champion Ken Doherty and six-time runner-up Jimmy White.