Wimbledon 2023: Just Stop Oil protesters disrupt play, arrested

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A protester is dragged away after a second disruption to play on Wimbledons court 18.—Reuters
A protester is dragged away after a second disruption to play on Wimbledon’s court 18.—Reuters

Wimbledon 2023 was marred by disruptions as protesters from the environmental group Just Stop Oil interrupted play on two separate occasions. 

The incidents took place on court 18 during the matches between Grigor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro, as well as Katie Boulter and Daria Saville. 

The protesters, who threw orange-coloured confetti and jigsaw pieces onto the court, were subsequently arrested. Just Stop Oil has previously targeted various sporting events, including an Ashes Test, as part of their call to end new oil, gas, and coal projects. 

The All England Club (AELTC) issued a statement condemning the incidents and confirmed the removal of the individuals involved. In response to the disruptions, jigsaw sales were temporarily halted at the Wimbledon shop. Home Secretary Suella Braverman criticised the protesters’ actions, labelling them as “selfish” and “unacceptable.” 

A meeting chaired by Braverman at Downing Street was held with representatives from sports organisations to prevent further disruptions. The incidents at Wimbledon followed a series of protests at other high-profile sporting events, including the Ashes cricket test and the Grand National.

Despite increased security measures and appeals for considerate behaviour, Wimbledon became the latest target of climate change protests. The AELTC had implemented enhanced security checks, resulting in delays for spectators entering the grounds. The disruption caused the green surface of the prestigious tournament to momentarily turn orange. 

AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton acknowledged the need for heightened security due to incidents at other venues. In a previous instance, an environmental activist had tied themselves to a net post during the French Open semi-final in 2022. Grigor Dimitrov, who won his first-round match after the brief interruption, praised the handling of the situation by staff and the fortuitous timing of a subsequent rain delay.

Katie Boulter expressed sympathy for the protesters’ cause but questioned the appropriateness of their actions, considering the dedication of fans who had endured long hours to watch the tournament.

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