Just Stop Oil protesters twice interrupted play on the third day of Wimbledon on Wednesday, releasing orange ticker-tape mixed with jigsaw puzzle pieces during matches on Court 18.
The first incident involved two protesters running on to the court holding boxes marked as 1,000-piece jigsaws of Centre Court before sprinkling the contents, halting play between Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro.
One of the protesters covered the court quite liberally while the other one aimed mainly wide of the tramlines.
Security staff quickly removed the individuals, one of whom sat down cross-legged on the turf. Neither resisted. The crowd booed the protesters with some heard shouting “Get Off”. Ground staff then swept the court and there appeared to be no damage.
Shortly after the protest, rain returned and the covers were dragged across the court.
Later, on the same show court which is overlooked by a terrace used by television broadcasters, the match between Britain’s Katie Boulter and Australian Daria Saville was halted by a similar incident.
This time one protester sprinkled ticker-tape on the court before being dragged away by three security staff.
Play resumed after the material was swept away, with both players helping to clear the court.
A Wimbledon statement after the first incident said: “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,” tournament organisers said in a statement.
“Play on the court was temporarily paused and, following a suspension in play due to a rain delay, play is about to resume.”
The Metropolitan Police said on Twitter that a man and a woman were now in police custody.
Security had been beefed up for the grasscourt Grand Slam, one of the jewels of the British sporting summer, after a spate of protests at high-level events in Britain.
The environmental group disrupted the second Ashes cricket test at Lord’s last week, attempting to spread orange powder on the wicket. They also intervened in this year’s Premiership Rugby final and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield where they smeared orange powder over a table.
This year’s Grand National horse race was also disrupted after animal rights activists attached themselves to fences.
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