The smooth proceedings of Wimbledon were interrupted on two occasions when protesters from the environmental group Just Stop Oil took action, causing disruptions on Court 18. Orange-colored confetti and jigsaw pieces were thrown onto the court, targeting the matches between Grigor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro, as well as Katie Boulter and Daria Saville.
The All England Club promptly responded, reporting that the individuals responsible for the interruptions had been arrested. This was not the first time Just Stop Oil had directed their protests towards sports events, as they previously targeted an Ashes Test, disrupted the rugby union Premiership final, and even interfered with the World Snooker Championship.
Following the initial incident on Court 18, the All England Club issued a statement confirming the arrest of two individuals on charges of aggravated trespass and criminal damage. These individuals were swiftly removed from the premises. The trespassers, a man and a woman, had made their way onto the court, causing disturbance by throwing confetti and jigsaw pieces from a Wimbledon-themed puzzle box onto the grass.
A few hours later, another man breached the court during British player Katie Boulter’s rain-interrupted first-round match against Australian player Daria Saville.
In response to the interruptions, a Wimbledon shop worker informed Sport News Center that they had temporarily halted the sale of jigsaw puzzles.
Just Stop Oil released a statement asserting that their supporters had thrown “environmentally friendly orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces.” They claimed that play had been briefly delayed while marshals cleared away the scattered puzzle pieces.
Just Stop Oil: Objectives and Actions
A protester affiliated with Just Stop Oil was escorted off court 18 by police officers.
Police officers accompany a Just Stop Oil protester off the court, holding the empty Wimbledon jigsaw box used in the protest.
A second protest halts play on Court 18.
Temporary suspension of play occurred while the confetti and jigsaw pieces were being removed.
Wimbledon Becomes the Latest Target despite Increased Security Measures
Wimbledon organizers had previously appealed to spectators to “show consideration” when questioned about the potential for climate change protests. They also implemented heightened security checks for this year’s event.
Despite these measures, Wimbledon experienced a temporary shift from its green aesthetic to an orange hue.
Sally Bolton, CEO of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), mentioned earlier in the week that the club had taken inspiration from security measures implemented at other venues, resulting in enhanced security throughout the grounds.
During the 2022 French Open semifinal between Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic, an environmental activist even went so far as to tie themselves to the net post.
‘It’s Unfortunate’ – Dimitrov on the Interruption
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov managed to secure a victory in his first-round match against Sho Shimabukuro despite the brief disruption that occurred early in the second set. Dimitrov acknowledged the efficient handling of the situation by staff and noted the fortunate timing of the subsequent rain delay, which allowed him to regroup and move past the incident.
“It’s certainly not a pleasant experience,” he expressed. “Sometimes, you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, everyone involved acted swiftly, and the rain provided an opportunity to shake off the disruption and regroup.”
‘Covering the Court’ – Eyewitness Account of the First Protest
Katie Smith, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, provided a vivid description of the initial protest:
“From my left-hand side, two members of the public leaped onto the court, donning Just Stop Oil T-shirts. They proceeded to throw a box filled with orange-goldenconfetti and blue materials. Ironically, the box turned out to be a jigsaw puzzle box depicting Centre Court at Wimbledon, with the blue material being puzzle pieces. These pieces scattered across the court.
Ball boys and ball girls were called in along with leaf blowers to manually remove the puzzle pieces. However, shortly thereafter, rain began to fall. The protesters were escorted by police officers around the perimeter of the court, with reporters scrambling to capture photographs.
Police detain a protester affiliated with Just Stop Oil at Wimbledon.
Katie Boulter assists in the cleanup after the second protest on Court 18.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wimbledon disruptions
What happened during Wimbledon 2023?
During Wimbledon 2023, protests led by the environmental group Just Stop Oil took place. Protesters interrupted play on Court 18 by throwing orange-colored confetti and jigsaw pieces onto the court. The matches between Grigor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro, as well as Katie Boulter and Daria Saville, were affected. The All England Club reported that the protesters were arrested.
Who is Just Stop Oil?
Just Stop Oil is an environmental protest group that advocates for the government to halt all new oil, gas, and coal projects. They have targeted various sporting events, including Wimbledon, an Ashes Test, the rugby union Premiership final, and the World Snooker Championship, to raise awareness about their cause.
What actions did the protesters take?
The protesters threw environmentally friendly orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces onto the court during the Wimbledon matches. They aimed to disrupt the games and draw attention to their cause. Play was briefly delayed as marshals cleared away the scattered puzzle pieces.
How did Wimbledon organizers respond to the protests?
Wimbledon organizers had previously urged spectators to be considerate regarding the possibility of climate change protests. They also increased security checks for the event. Following the disruptions, the All England Club released a statement confirming the arrest of the protesters and the removal of the individuals from the grounds.
How did players and officials react to the interruptions?
Grigor Dimitrov, who won his first-round match, acknowledged that the disruption was unpleasant but praised the staff’s handling of the situation. The rain delay that followed the protest allowed him to regroup. A BBC eyewitness described the scene, highlighting the involvement of ball boys, ball girls, and leaf blowers in clearing the confetti and puzzle pieces from the court.
Did the protests impact the availability of jigsaw puzzles at Wimbledon?
Yes, after the interruptions, a Wimbledon shop worker stated that they had temporarily stopped selling jigsaw puzzles. This action was likely taken to prevent any further association with the disruptive incidents and to ensure a smoother continuation of the tournament.
More about Wimbledon disruptions
- Wimbledon – Official website of the Wimbledon tennis championships.
- Just Stop Oil – Official website of the environmental protest group.
- All England Club – Official website of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the organization behind Wimbledon.
- BBC Sport – Sports news and updates, including coverage of the Wimbledon disruptions.
- The Guardian – News outlet providing information on the Wimbledon protests and related events.