World No 1 Gerwyn Price has called for Alexandra Palace’s World Darts Championship to be postponed after another Covid positive test.
Dave Chisnall became the third player to be forced out of the tournament on Wednesday after testing positive for coronavirus.
Three-time champion Michael van Gerwen hit out at the event’s organisers after he had to pull out of the competition following a positive Covid test as he branded the tournament a ‘big corona bomb’.
And Price, who said the tournament was ‘devalued’ due to the withdrawals this week, has now demanded the showpiece event is called off altogether.
‘Now this tournament is devalued. I’d rather play the best to be the best, absolutely feel sick for these players having to pull out over Covid,’ he wrote on his Instagram story on Tuesday.
World No 1 Gerwyn Price has called for the World Darts Championship to be postponed
Price said the tournament was ‘devalued’ after the first withdrawals and has now said it should be postponed after a third player was forced out of the competition
Dave Chisnall has become the third player to be forced out of the World Darts Championship
He said to his 141,000 followers on Wednesday: ‘Tournament needs to be postponed.’
The latest withdrawal has raised fears that several big matches could end as walkovers with five days of action left, while fans have labelled the tournament a ‘farce’ and ‘ridiculous’.
A PDC Darts statement on Wednesday read: ‘Dave Chisnall has withdrawn from the William Hill World Darts Championship after testing positive for Covid-19 ahead of his match with Luke Humphries.
‘Humphries will receive a bye to the last 16 and Wednesday afternoon’s session will continue with two matches.
‘Jose de Sousa will play Alan Soutar, and Nathan Aspinall then plays Callan Rydz.’
Dutch darts legend Raymond van Barneveld revealed he had Covid after crashing out of the Championship at the weekend.
Michael Van Gerwen was forced out of World Darts Championship through Covid on Tuesday
Van Gerwen revealed he had no symptoms of Covid and was frustrated at having to pull out
While Vincent van der Voort was ruled out of the tournament after testing positive for Covid, handing James Wade a bye to reach the fourth round.
Van Gerwen was the next high-profile star to test positive and he was less than impressed.
‘It is not a surprise,’ Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in public health at the University of East Anglia, told Sportsmail.
‘[The tournament] has been taking place during a period of rapid growth in the epidemic in London,’ said the professor of medicine, who highlighted the risks of transmission when the event got under way earlier this month.
While fans have labelled the tournament a ‘farce’ and ‘ridiculous’ following forced withdrawals
‘It was particularly growing among younger adults and people have been congregating in an enclosed space. We should not be surprised in any way they are getting cases now.’
‘It is quite possible they will see more cases,’ added Prof Hunter since ‘on the balance of probabilities’ they have been exposed to the virus at the tournament, but scientists can never be absolutely certain.
Van Gerwen has said he has diligently avoided taking any risks including going down to breakfast at his hotel, and Prof Hunter said that such careful behaviour increased the likelihood players were infected at the competition.
The number of cases that may emerge at the Championships among players and fans will depend on the level of boosted vaccination and whether they have been infected with Omicron before.
‘We may never know what has been the spread among supporters because there is so much Covid now surveillance systems cannot keep up,’ he added.
‘It is quite plausible that quite a lot of people who have attended will have tested positive for Covid now, but proving it would be more difficult because there is so much around.’
Van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort (second right) spent Christmas together before the latter got Covid
Van Gerwen tweeted on Tuesday night: ‘Really disappointed, confused, angry…..the way how my world championship is ending.
‘Never expected this outcome as I thought I did everything in my possibility to avoid it. Also ain’t got any symptoms.
‘Closing this year of really quickly. Fans I’ll be back stronger!’
Van Gerwen followed fellow countryman Van Der Voort having also tested positive and being forced into isolation.
‘Of course our health is the most important thing, but you are here to win the tournament,’ Van Gerwen told Dutch media outlet AD Sportwereld.
‘I never saw this coming. Vincent and I have been almost nowhere. We didn’t even go to the breakfast room (at the hotel), because we thought it was too busy there.
‘We get to sit here together now, but we had imagined this very differently. Again, this is really the biggest nightmare.
Hundreds of darts fans pack into Alexandra Palace for the World Darts Championship
Individuals are asked to wear masks, except when eating or drinking, as part of ‘Plan B’ rules
‘I test myself here every day. I don’t know where I got it. Yet we are the loser.’
Van Gerwen and Van Der Voort were seen together as they celebrated Christmas and the former feels more could be done to limit the spread of the virus.
‘They actually have to check everyone at the door every day, they didn’t do that,’ the Dutchman said.
‘According to the British Government, this is not necessary, but to protect your own organisation and the World Championship, that would have been useful.
‘The PDC will at all times say that they have followed the rules of the Government, but they could have been looked at more closely.
‘The control has not been strong enough. It is just a big corona bomb now.
‘It is as leaky as a basket, now I pay a high price. I haven’t done anything at all, that makes it extra sour.’
In response to Van Gerwen’s comments, the PDC said in a statement to PA: ‘We hope both Vincent and Michael remain in good health and share their disappointment that they were unable to continue in the tournament.
WHAT FANS NEED TO ATTEND ALLY PALLY
Ticket holders need to demonstrate their Covid status by providing one of the following:
• Proof of full vaccination
• Proof of natural immunity based upon a positive PCR test within 180 days of the event and following completion of the required self-isolation period
• Proof of a negative NHS Lateral Flow Test taken on the day of the event
‘We won’t comment on individual players’ circumstances and we continue to follow approved protocols at the William Hill World Darts Championship, which includes testing for all players involved in the event.’
The World Darts Championship, which attracts 80,000 raucous fans to the north London showpiece, was labelled ‘Covid spreading on steroids’ by public health experts.
Professor Keith Neal, an expert in public health at the University of Nottingham, said the event was too risky with the Omicron variant spreading so rapidly across the country, particularly in London, and should never have been given the go ahead with fans present.
‘I would tell the local authorities do not let it happen with a crowd,’ said Prof Neal at the start of tournament. ‘It is ridiculous. People will be travelling on public transport.
‘It is Covid spreading on steroids. There is no concept of social distancing and they will not be wearing masks because they are drinking.’
The final is due to be played on Monday at 8pm, with £500,000 in prize money going to the winner.