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During play at Monday’s World Snooker Championship, one of the most prestigious and popular tournaments in the sport, there was an interruption as protestors broke from the crowds at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
The tournament, which attracts millions of fans and viewers, suffered an unprecedented incident when a coordinated protest saw two people make their way to the tables. The protestors, from the activist group Just Stop Oil, caused disbelief and outrage.
Things were rolling along as usual in the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, but during the First Round fixture between Robert Milkins and Joe Perry, a man burst from the crowd, jumped on the table and broke open a bag of orange powder.
The protestor, wearing a Just Stop Oil t-shirt then kneeled as security moved in to detain him. At the same time that was happening, the other ongoing match at the time between Mark Allen and Fan Zhengyi, saw a lady approach the table.
But referee Olivier Marteel reacted sharply to manhandle her away from the table and was quickly backed up by security and a cameraman. None of the players or match officials was harmed, but the incident caused a delay in play on Monday.
What Were The Protests About?
The “Just Stop Oil” protestors claimed that their motive was to try and get the UK government to stop all new fossil fuel projects. But also there was a driving goal to get support from UK sporting institutions involved in such resistance to policies.
The World Snooker Championship protest is one of a series of disruptions caused by the Just Stop Oil activists. Earlier in this season’s Premier League a man protesting against new oil fields in the North Sea tied himself to a goalpost during Everton’s match against Newcastle.
In 2022, members of the group threw soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers’ at London’s National Gallery, and the incident quickly followed disruptions at last weekend’s Grand National by animal welfare activists.
Because of a big clean-up operation needed on the table being used in the Milkins vs Perry match, the fixture had to be postponed until the following evening. With the quick intervention of referee Marteel, the match between Allen and Fan was only halted for 40 minutes.
Allen, who is seeking a Triple Crown, said of the incident “Two idiots disrupted what should have been a nice night of snooker” Amid further condemnation by snooker officials, players and fans, world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan said: “It’s a shame that people have to resort to these kinds of things. It’s not fair on the players or the fans.
Tournament organisers The World Snooker Tour, tweeted: “This is the Crucible. The show will go on.”
The Just Stop Oil group claims that their use of non-violent protests is meant to raise awareness about climate change, and to force policy changes surrounding the fossil fuel industry. However, their methods, including damaging property have been criticised as counterproductive to their cause and irresponsible.
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