BARRY Hawkins and Mark Allen could both face fines after pulling out of the China Open on the opening day of the event.

But the players’ management have defended their move – claiming it was to prepare properly for April’s World Championships.

Last year’s Crucible finalist Hawkins won last week’s PTC Finals, which was switched at short notice from Thailand to Preston due to political violence in Bangkok.

And that handed leading professionals playing both at the Guild Hall – especially those doing well - and in Beijing a tough travel schedule.

Normally players withdrawing after entering a tournament are fined, without a medical exemption or other exceptional circumstances.

The governing body has come under fire in some quarters this season for backing events on to each other.

World No4 Hawkins, 34, lost 18-12 to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Sheffield showpiece and Allen, a two-time World Open champion, has been to the last four.

Their management OnQ Promotions said on Twitter: “Both players entered the China Open thinking they would be playing the PTC Grand Finals in Thailand and would travel from there to Beijing.

“As the Grand Finals were moved to the UK, both players decided they would not have entered the China Open knowing the new travel implications and their desire to fully prepare for the World Championships.”

A World Snooker spokesman said: “It was unfortunate that the PTC Finals had to be switched at short notice due to events way beyond our control.

“The players are playing in more events and for more prize money than ever before and there can be logistical issues. But that is also part of being a professional player.”

The beneficiaries are Luca Brecel, who was due to play Allen and is now guaranteed £6,500, and Fergal O’Brien who was due to face Hawkins.

Stuart Bingham (family funeral), Stephen Maguire (back) and Tony Drago had already pulled out.