Climate activists interrupted matches at Wimbledon on Wednesday, scattering orange confetti and jigsaw pieces in the latest protests targeting major sporting events.
Two men and a woman, all wearing T-shirts with “Just Stop Oil” printed on them, were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.
Two incidents occurred about two hours apart on Court 18, one of the show courts at the All England Club.
Two protesters ran onto the court during the first-round match between 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov and Japanese qualifier Sho Shimabukuro.
One fan shouted “Get off the court” as spectators booed and jeered.
A third protester disrupted the match between Britain’s Katie Boulter and Australia’s Daria Saville, both of whom helped clear the court after the activist was escorted away.
The demonstrations prompted a warning from UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, after she hosted top sports officials to try to prevent similar disruptions at forthcoming sporting events.
“The protesters at Wimbledon were determined to ruin the day’s play for spectators and sports fans across the world,” she said.
“This is unacceptable. We will be uncompromisingly tough on the selfish protesters intent on spoiling our world-class sporting occasions this summer.”
Just Stop Oil wants the UK government to end all new oil and gas exploration and has promised not to let up in its protests until it does so.
The group said after the first demonstration: “The supporters threw environmentally friendly orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces onto the court, before being removed.
“Play was briefly delayed whilst marshals picked up the pieces.”
Simon Milner-Edwards, 66, who took part in the action, said in the statement: “I’m here for my grandchildren and everybody else’s.
“I’m not prepared to let our politicians wreck everything and leave the next generation to pick up the pieces.”
– Heightened security –
Dimitrov said his initial instinct had been to get involved but he realised “it’s not my place to do that”.
The Bulgarian added: “Obviously it’s not pleasant. In the end of the day there is not much you can do. I think everyone in a way did their part as quick as possible.”
Wimbledon chiefs have tightened security following demonstrations elsewhere in the UK.
Three protesters from Just Stop Oil ran onto the ground during the second Ashes cricket Test at Lord’s last week, sprinkling the group’s trademark orange powder.
There were similar demonstrations during the recent World Snooker Championship and English Premiership rugby final.
The group has also targeted Premier League matches and the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
New legislation gives police greater powers to stop and search protesters for items such as padlocks and superglue, as well as arrest people suspected of attempting to cause a public nuisance.
Tougher checks on spectators have been blamed for causing delays and standstills in the queue on the first day of Wimbledon.
Former world number four Tim Henman, who sits on the board of the All England Club, said it was difficult to guarantee protests would not happen.
“You prepare as best you can,” he told the BBC. “Obviously, the challenge when you’ve got 35,000-plus people coming to your grounds and you’ve got 18 fields of play, it’s not easy.
“So it will be important for everyone to understand the facts and where these people have come from but it’s frustrating.
“We’ve had enough disruptions with the weather. To get a disruption like that as well is disappointing.”
Source : Yahoo!