Environmental activists disrupt matches at Italian Open

Henry

Environmental protesters disrupted two tennis matches at the Italian Open on Monday after storming the courts in Rome.

Activists from the climate group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) stormed the Pietrangeli court, where American Madison Keys led Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 3-1 in the women’s round of 16 matchup.

The protesters, dressed in orange jackets, threw a liquid and confetti onto the track before being removed by security personnel.

After play was interrupted for half an hour so that the court could be cleared, Keys was able to continue her march and beat Romania’s Cirstea 6-2 and 6-1 – and thus an opportunity for a place in the quarter-finals against the world number one, Iga Swiatek, create.

“Honestly, when I saw the protesters coming over the barricade, my first thought was: Should I flatten them?” Keys joked with reporters.

“Unfortunately it’s starting to become a bit of a common thing, so at that stage I thought it was going to be a delay. I just tried to get off the track and regroup.”

Two people also stormed onto an adjacent court, where a men’s doubles match was underway, and also threw liquid and confetti.

The lanes were evacuated while organizers waited for the police to arrive.

According to a spokesperson for the tournament, at least one protester tried to glue his feet to the tennis court to delay his removal.

The men’s doubles was also resumed later.

“Of course it’s not the nicest feeling when you’re on the track, your first thought is about your own safety. Maybe people should be thoroughly searched and glue in bags should be banned,” Keys said.

“These types of cases are becoming more common. Organizers and authorities must find a way to stop it.”

In March, three Ultima Generazione activists briefly interrupted the Rome marathon before being arrested by the police.

The group is demanding that the Italian government make a recovery fund of €20 billion ($22 billion) available for “all people suffering damage due to climate change”.

In recent months, the group’s activists have, among other things, thrown soup, cakes and paint on cultural sites and artworks in museums as a shock tactic to spread their message.

Scientists say climate change caused by human activities is increasing the intensity, frequency and length of extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves and wildfires.