RONNIE O’Sullivan has poured a little cold water on snooker’s renewed Olympic ambitions by admitting he would love to be at the 2020 Games in Japan – but primarily to watch the athletics.
Governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association are joining forces with other cuesports in a concerted effort to snatch one of the ‘wild-card’ places for new sports up for grabs at the Tokyo Olympics. A decision is expected as soon as July.
Realistically, with baseball and softball the favourites in a broad field, the earliest Games for which snooker could challenge for a place would be 2024, and even that would require some world-class lobbying from Jason Ferguson and other bosses.
O’Sullivan, a five-time world champion, essentially believes that snooker, golf and tennis have no real business gate-crashing a party mostly reserved for athletes prizing a gold medal above all else.
However keen runner O’Sullivan admits that if still playing he could not refuse any chance to join his track and field heroes in the Olympic Village.
“Look, it would be a great experience and look good on the CV, but I’m not a fan,” said O’Sullivan, who starts his German Masters campaign in Berlin this week.
“In my opinion tennis and golf shouldn’t be in the Olympics – and neither should snooker. The Olympics is for people who train for four years for that gold medal.
“For the athletes, the pole vaulters and everyone else, that is the one big event for them.
“We have the world championships, the Masters, the UK. Would an Olympic gold be bigger than a world title for a player? Not for me, it wouldn’t be.
“And I think that not just for snooker bit some of these other sports, the Olympics should be left for these people that grow up dreaming of nothing else.
“If I was still playing in 2020 and got the nod if I’m honest I probably would go – but I’d be honoured to be with the athletes and spend most of the time watching them.
“I’d make sure I got some of the best seats in the house on my day off and see how they train. In fact I’d pay good money to see how they prepare.”
O’Sullivan lifted the trophy in Berlin three years ago, a success that rescued his career after a barren spell and thoughts of retirement, and set him on the path to back to back world titles.