Just Stop Oil protesters disrupt Wimbledon

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LONDON — Protesters from the climate change activist group Just Stop Oil disrupted Wimbledon on Wednesday after showering Court No. 18 in orange confetti.

Despite increased security at the tournament, two protesters managed to get access to Court No. 18 and caused Sho Shimabukuro’s match against Grigor Dimitrov to be halted.

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The court invasion occurred at the start of the second game in the second set with Dimitrov serving.

The two protesters transported the orange confetti into the grounds by hiding it in Wimbledon-branded jigsaw boxes.

One of the two protesters was immediately guided off court by security while another sat next to the net before being escorted from the court.

“Following an incident on Court 18, two individuals have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage and these individuals have now been removed from the Grounds,” Wimbledon said in a statement after the incident.

“Play on the court was temporarily paused and, following a suspension in play due to a rain delay, play is about to resume.”

The All England Club stepped up security ahead of this year’s Wimbledon in anticipation of this threat.

Bags searches were more thorough than previous years, with chalk added to the prohibited items list. These more stringent security measures were blamed for the lengthy delays experienced by some spectators in getting access to the grounds Monday.

Undercover police officers have also been placed among spectators to identify specific threats as part of the attempts to prevent protesters gaining access to the court.

“Based on what has happened at other sporting events, and on the advice from our key partners, we have reviewed our security plans, which have now been uplifted for The Championships accordingly,” All England Club operations director Michelle Dite said on Thursday.

“We have plans in place to mitigate the risks working in partnership with specialist agencies and the Metropolitan Police. Should an incident occur the appropriate specialist teams will respond.”

Just Stop Oil, a coalition of environmental action groups, have disrupted several high-profile sporting events in the UK over the past 18 months including Premier League football matches, the final of rugby union’s Premiership and the World Snooker Championship.

The most recent disruption came on June 28 on the first morning of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

At Wimbledon, both protesters — Deborah Wilde and Simon Milner-Edwards — were escorted off the premises by the Metropolitan Police.

In a statement issued by Just Stop Oil, one of the protesters, Deborah Wilde said: “In normal circumstances this sort of disruption would be entirely unacceptable, but these aren’t normal circumstances.

“We’ve just had the hottest June on record, breaking the previous record by nearly a whole degree! We don’t need Hawk-eye to see that our government issuing over 100 new fossil fuel licences is a very bad line-call.”

The other protester, Simon Milner-Edwards, said: “The last thing I want to do is spoil people’s enjoyment of Wimbledon, but right now, on Centre Court, it’s humanity vs oil and gas — and the umpire is getting every call wrong. How long are we going to take this before we see a McEnroe-level meltdown!?”

Sources have told ESPN that jigsaws have since been removed from sale by the official Wimbledon gift shop.

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