A climate change activist took some heat in the most literal sense on Day 1 of the Laver Cup ahead of the second set between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman on Friday. The man started a fire on the grounds of the O2 Arena and set his own arm on fire.
The protester wore jeans and a white t-shirt with black lettering that read ‘End Britain’s private jets’. He ran onto the pitch and quickly sat down near the net before pulling out a lighter and lighting a fire on the hard court. His right arm caught flames and he rushed to put them out. Once he did, he sat crosswise as security ran to pick him up.
The second match of the Laver Cup, in which the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas this Friday beat the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, was briefly interrupted after an activist burst onto the field and set his arm on fire in a sign of protest against private planes.
Tsitsipas had just won the first set 6-2 and the players were on their team benches when a young man, wearing a t-shirt that read ‘End Private Jets in the UK’, approached fillet.
He sat down in the middle of the field and lit a flammable substance on his arm, but the flames were quickly extinguished and the youngster was evacuated by tournament security.
The referees then checked that the pitch, where the fire had also been lit, was in good condition. The match was able to continue and Tsitsipas won the second set 6-2 to give Europe a 2-0 lead over the rest of the world team.
‘He came from I don’t know where…I have no idea what he wanted.’ I had never experienced such an incident on the track. I hope he’s fine,’ Tsitsipas said after the duel.
According to The Guardian, his arm that caught fire may not have been an accident. ‘The protester is believed to represent Sacrifice for Survival, a climate emergency protest initiative which previously saw its activists set themselves on fire every day in an effort to stop flights between locations inside the UK’, reads their report.
It was an unusual moment and everyone, including the players, was caught off guard.
‘It came out of nowhere, I have no idea what it is,’ Tsitsipas said. ‘I’ve never had an incident like this on the court, so hopefully he’s okay.’
There was a brief delay while the court was cleared. Tsitsipas spent time talking with the referee to make sure he was safe to resume play.
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