1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
Rule of LawUnited Kingdom

Wimbledon: 'Just Stop Oil' climate activists halt tournament

July 5, 2023

Climate activists from "Just Stop Oil" have been arrested at Wimbledon after protesting with confetti then refusing to leave the court during a first-round match.

A man wearing a 'Just Stop Oil' T-shirt sits with his legs crossed on Court 18 at Wimbledon
'I'm not prepared to let our politicians wreck everything and leave the next generation to pick up the pieces,' said a 66-year-old sit-in protesterImage: Alastair Grant/AP/picture alliance

Two protesters from the anti-fossil fuel group "Just Stop Oil" disrupted play during the first round of the prestigeous Wimbledon Tennis Championship on Wednesday and were promptly arrested.

The commotion commenced when two activists stormed Court 18 during a first-round men's match between 21st-seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Japanese qualifier Sho Shimabukuro.

A woman — wearing a baseball cap, parka and white Just Stop Oil T-shirt — ran onto the court throwing confetti from a picture-puzzle box featuring an image of Wimbledon's famed Center Court.

A woman throws confetti as she runs past the net at Wimbledon's Court 18, while security looks on and another man with sunglasses peers from behind a curtain
Chaos ensued when a woman emptied confetti out of a puzzle box with a photo of Wimbledon's famed Center CourtImage: Alastair Grant/AP/picture alliance

While the woman was being escorted away, a second individual — a man with shaved head, gray beard and glasses — went to mid court where he removed his parka to reveal a Just Stop Oil T-shirt and sat down to be arrested.

The 66-year-old sit-in protester said in a statement: "I'm here for my grandchildren and everybody else's. I'm not prepared to let our politicians wreck everything and leave the next generation to pick up the pieces."

A spokesman for the All England Club 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. Play on the court was temporarily paused and, following a suspension in play due to a rain delay, play is about to resume."

Police look on at Wimbledon as a male climate activist is removed from the grounds
Wimbledon host All England Club said two individuals were arrested and removed from the grounds Wednesday.Image: Alastair Grant/AP/picture alliance

Wimbledon security heightened amid climate protest fears

The incident occurred despite increased security coordination between host All England Club, London police and other policing agencies with an eye to stopping such protests.

Among other things, heightened security measures have led to long entrance lines for spectators as bags are being subjected to increased scrutiny.

"You prepare as best you can," said former world number four Tim Henman, a board member at the All England Club. "Obviously, the challenge when you've got 35,000-plus people coming to your grounds and you've got 18 fields of play… it's not easy."

Just Stop Oil will continue protests until UK drops fossils

Just Stop Oil, which has promised to keep up protests until the UK government ends all new oil and gas exploration, issued a statement confirming it was behind the incident: "The supporters threw environmentally friendly orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces onto the court, before being removed. Play was briefly delayed whilst marshals picked up the pieces."

Ground staff at Wimbledon scramble to collect confetti strewn about by a female activist, as fans patiently await resumption of play
Marshals (and ground staff) were indeed left to 'pick up the pieces' after the stuntImage: Alastair Grant/AP/picture alliance

Like other environmental groups, Just Stop Oil has engaged in numerous acts of deliberate provocation to get its message out. Last week, three protesters disrupted another highly traditional sports event, the Ashes cricket tournament at Lord's. Professional snooker, rugby and soccer events have also been targeted.

Among the more controversial forms of protest undertaken by the group seem to have been their attacks on famous artworks at museums around the world. This, too, has led cultural institutions having to allot funds and energy to security rather than the work they are tasked with carrying out.

Wednesday's action on the third day of the three-week Wimbledon tournament was greeted with jeers and booing, with the crowd yelling, "get off the court!"

js,jcg (AFP, AP, dpa)