The US Open was plunged into chaos on Thursday after climate activists disrupted play, forcing a 50-minute stoppage as the tennis showpiece became the latest sporting event to be targeted by protesters. The semi-final clash between American teenager Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova in the Arthur Ashe Stadium was halted in game two of the second set as three protesters wearing t-shirts with the slogan “end fossil fuels” began chanting the same message. The protesters were greeted with jeers and chants of “kick them out” by other spectators as security staff moved in.
One of the protesters glued his feet to the concrete floor of the stadium, preventing his swift removal from the arena, tournament officials said.
The delay occurred as Muchova prepared to serve early in the second set with Gauff leading 6-4, 1-0 just after 8pm local time.
— Matt Majendie (@mattmajendie) September 8, 2023
Gauff and Muchova waited patiently on the court for several minutes but eventually left the court to return to the locker rooms.
What is going on here? Just kick them out? @usopen
— Steve Smith (@stevesmith49) September 8, 2023
“NYPD are in the process of resolving a fan disturbance. Play will resume as soon as possible,” the US Open said in a statement.
US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster later confirmed to US media that one of the protesters had glued themselves to the floor.
“When security got there they found one of the protesters had physically glued themselves to the cement floor,” Allaster said.
Television footage showed Gauff and Muchova trying to stay loose in the locker rooms, consulting with coaching staff during the unprecedented delay.
Gauff and Muchova finally returned to the court at around 8.50pm local time after a stoppage in play timed at around 50 minutes.
The incident is the latest in a series of protests by climate activists targeting major sporting events around the world.
Major tennis events have been frequently targeted.
Last year a female activist disrupted the French Open men’s semi-final between Marin Cilic and Casper Ruud, tying herself to the net, while in September 2022 a man ran onto the court during the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London and set his arm on fire.
In July this year, three people were arrested after disrupting play at Wimbledon, scattering orange confetti and jigsaw pieces over the court. The three were subsequently charged with aggravated trespass and face criminal prosecution.
In a separate incident at the Ashes cricket Test between Australia and England at Lord’s in London in June, two men from the “Just Stop Oil” movement ran onto the field and scattered orange powder.
There were similar demonstrations during the recent World Snooker Championship and English Premiership rugby final.
Activists have also targeted Premier League matches and the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
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