Snooker Returns to China
The event will take place at the Chaoyang Stadium in the heart of Beijing from March 27 to April 3. It will be the seventh world ranking tournament of the 2004/05 season and the last before the Embassy World Championship.
World Snooker first staged a ranking tournament in China in Guangzhou in 1990 and there were four more in Shanghai and Shenzhen from 1999 to 2002. Mark Williams won the 2002 event, beating Anthony Hamilton 9-8 in the final.
The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Williams, Stephen Hendry, Paul Hunter, John Higgins, Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White and Steve Davis are all set to compete for the title this time. The top 16 qualify automatically, and will be joined on the plane to the Chinese capital by 16 players who come through qualifying rounds in January.
There will also be a wild card round at the event featuring some of the leading Chinese and Asian players.
The popularity of snooker in China has grown enormously in the past decade. The new wave of Chinese players is led by Ding Junhui, the 17-year-old prodigy from Shanghai who has been tipped as a potential world champion.
Ding became the youngest ever world under-21 champion at the age of 15 and is now enjoying success on the Main Tour, reaching the last 16 of the British Open in November. His compatriots Jin Long and Liu Song are also competing on snooker’s premier circuit this season.
CCTV5 will broadcast the 2005 China Open live, with a minimum of 29 hours coverage, following the success of the Sohu Brilliance Challenge Tournament in September 2004, which featured Ding, Hunter and Peter Ebdon. This exhibition event was beamed to 64 million homes and was the channel’s tenth most popular programme of 2004.
The China Open will be supported by the Multi Board Games Administration Sports Council along with the Mayor of Beijing. World Snooker aims to announce the tournament sponsor shortly.
Charlie Burt, World Snooker’s Business Development Director, said: “This is a major development for the sport, as World Snooker has been a UK centric organisation for too long.
“Although World Snooker has held previous tournaments in China, none have had the level of support or expectation that this event will bring to Beijing. This is a step in the right direction and our Asian markets demand world ranking tournaments. We will deliver our best products to our growing audiences.”
Date: Thursday, January 20th 2004
Contact: World Snooker media office 0117 317 8200