Demonstrators protesting the use of fossil fuels took to Wimbledon Wednesday, dumping confetti and puzzle piece onto the All-England Club’s grass courts during play.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov was preparing to serve against Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro on Court 18 when a man ran onto his side of the court with a box full of confetti and puzzles pieces. He emptied the contents of his box onto the lawn before taking a seat near the net.
The All-England club announced that the protestor along with another wearing shirts reading “Just Stop Oil” were arrested on charges “on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.”
Later, during a match between Britain’s Katie Boulter and Australia’s Daria Saville, another protestor took the same court. He likewise emptied the contents of his box and took off his jacket to display his “Just Stop Oil” message. He attempted to flee security, but was detained quickly. Two guard then dragged him off by his arms as boos rained down from the stands. He was also arrested.
Boulter and Saville then helped clean up the debris before resuming their match that Boulter won 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
The demonstrations were the latest from the group that have interrupted multiple British sporting events, including a cricket match last week between England and Australia. The Associated Press reports that the group has also demonstrated during Premier League soccer games, rugby games and the World Snooker Championship. Just Stop Oil is a self-described “nonviolent civil resistance group demanding the UK Government stop licensing all new oil, gas and coal projects.”
Dimitrov, who won his match, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, told reporters that his initial instinct was to intervene with the protest before he thought better of it.
“I mean, my first reaction was initially to go also, but then I also realized that’s not my place to do that,” he said. “I think it just depends on the person. Whatever instinct you have.”
He said that he didn’t feel that he was in any danger when the protestors took the court.
“No, no, not at all,” he said. “I think we are never left unguarded anywhere we have to go. So yeah, I mean, walking to the court, you’re always surrounded by the right people. I for one feel okay with everything on that end.”
All England Club operations director Michelle Dite said last week that her team was preparing security measures in anticipation of protests after Just Stop Oil’s demonstrations at other British sporting events.
“We have plans in place to mitigate the risks working in partnership with specialist agencies and the Metropolitan Police; and should an incident occur, the appropriate specialist teams will respond,” Dite said, per AP.
American Danielle Collins told reporters that she understood why the protests were taking place.
“I guess, in some ways, it would be a bit of a distraction if it was going on during the match, but I also understand the importance, too, sometimes, of people being able to protest for things that matter for them,” Collins told reporters.
“And especially anything related to the climate. This is a real thing that we’re dealing with, and I feel like not enough people are aware of those issues and have enough education around it.”
Collins played on Wednesday, defeating Austria’s Julia Grabher, 6-4, 6-4.
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