Environmental activists disrupt play at Wimbledon by throwing confetti, puzzle pieces onto the grass

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Two environmental activists were arrested at Wimbledon on Wednesday after getting on court and disrupting a match by scattering orange confetti and puzzle pieces on the grass.

A woman and a man wearing T-shirts from Just Stop Oil — a protest group that wants the British government to stop new oil, gas and coal projects — made it onto the field of play at Court 18 before being taken away by security.

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The interruption happened as three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who is seeded 21st in the men’s bracket, was about to hit a serve in the second set of a first-round match against Sho Shimabukuro of Japan.

Before the debris could be cleared from the court to allow the players to continue, action was halted by a rain delay.

“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,” an All England Club spokesperson said in a statement. “Play on the court was temporarily paused and, following a suspension in play due to a rain delay, play (resumed).”

One of the activists sat down on the court before being removed.

Wimbledon court
A general view of No. 1 Court with the new roof closed as Kim Clijsters of Belgium serves to Venus Williams of the United States during the Wimbledon No. 1 Court Celebration in support of the Wimbledon Foundation at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on May 19, 2019 in London, England. Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

The All England Club coordinated with London police and other agencies to increase security for this year’s tournament, in part as a result of protests at other major sports venues in Britain this year.

“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 last week.

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

Her comments came a day after people representing Just Stop Oil briefly disrupted play about five minutes after the start of a cricket match between England and Australia in London. Players from both teams intervened when the protesters attempted to spread orange powder on the field.

Earlier in June, protesters held up the England cricket team bus briefly during the test against Ireland in London. Activists also have targeted Premier League soccer matches, the Premiership rugby final at Twickenham, and the world snooker championship in Sheffield this year.

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