Referee Olivier Marteel (L) speaks with Luca Brecel from Belgium after his 10: 5 loss to Stephen Maguire from Scotland (R) during the game of the first round of the World Snooker Championship tournament at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield in north-west England on April 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANDREW YATES (Photo by ANDREW YATES / AFP)
The snooker referee Olivier Marteel has exchanged the green bait for a leading role in the fight against the corona virus in his Belgian homeland.
Marteel, who led the 2015 World Cup final, would have been at the Crucible in Sheffield to run this year's tournament if it hadn't been postponed, but is working as a nurse in Veurne.
The 50-year-old normally works in the radiology department, but was asked to work in his hospital's emergency room during the COVID-19 crisis.
His job is to examine patients and assess whether they need to be tested for the disease or see a doctor.
Marteel said the patient volume and lack of personal protective equipment meant that he had to be creative to protect himself.
"I've never worked in an A&E situation like this (accident and emergency)," he said on the World Snooker official website.
“When I was asked to take on this role, I didn't have a second in doubt. I wanted to work in medicine as a small child. I have trained for three years and have been working for 28 years. When this showed up, I jumped in on it, although there are some risks.
“It is of course difficult… we have problems getting enough personal protective equipment here. This weekend we started using diving masks bought in a sports shop because we don't have enough of the right masks. "
Marteel has been a referee on the World Snooker Tour since 2006 and has also taken over the UK Championship and the Masters Final.
"I have always said that refereeing is a breeze compared to my main job," he said.
“Of course, I treat snookers like a job, but for me it's a holiday. And that will never feel truer than when I'm at a tournament again – I hope soon. "
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