Spectators are to be allowed in to watch the final of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield after the British Government relaxed COVID-19 rules ©Getty Images

A limited amount of spectators are set to be allowed to watch the final of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield this weekend after the British Government announced it was resuming a pilot scheme to gradually reintroduce crowds to sports events.

When the tournament began on July 31 at the Crucible Theatre a reduced crowd were able to watch, as social distancing and other health and safety measures to deal with COVID-19 were implemented.

Midway through the opening day, however, it was announced that test events for the return of crowds were being scrapped after a rise in coronavirus cases, so the event has gone on behind closed doors since.

The Government has now decided that the situation has eased sufficiently enough to allow about 300 spectators into the arena for each day on Saturday and Sunday (August 15 and 16).

Normally there would be about 1,000 spectators in the Crucible, which has hosted the Championship since 1977.

"The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from 15 August with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October," the Government said in a statement tonight.

"This will commence with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre during 15-16 August, with a full pilot programme to follow."

If the pilot is successful, it could lead to other sports venues in Britain being opened to socially-distanced fans from October 1.

Five-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan had criticised the original decision to allow fans into the arena, claiming it created an "unnecessary risk".

He is currently trailing three-time champion Mark Selby 9-7 in the best-of-33 semi-final after losing his overnight lead in the all-English clash.

Selby, who defeated O'Sullivan in the 2014 final, was 5-3 down after the first session but took four frames in a row.

O'Sullivan, appearing in the semi-final of this tournament for the first time since his loss to Selby six years ago, hit back with two of the next three frames, only for Selby's 76 break to give him a two-frame lead at the end of the session.

In the other semi-final, England's Kyren Wilson, winner of the gold medal at the 2017 World Games in Wrocław, leads Scotland's Anthony McGill 13-11.

Wilson had finished last night's session 6-2 down but drew level in the second session at 8-8 and then took the lead.

Wilson, who knocked out the defending champion, England's Judd Trump, in the previous round, will start tomorrow's session needing just four frames to reach his first final.

The winner of the final will receive £500,000 ($650,000/€550,000).