Two members of the climate activist group Just Stop Oil disrupted the World Snooker Championship on Monday, April 17.
This year’s World Snooker Championship, which was held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England, was disrupted by protestors from Just Stop Oil.
During a match between Robert Milkins and Joe Perry, a man wearing a Just Stop Oil t-shirt ran from the crowd and jumped on the table they were playing on. He then covered the table in orange powder paint before he was quickly escorted away by security.
At the same time, another protester interrupted Mark Allen and Fan Zhengyi's match. She also attempted to cover the snooker table in orange powder paint but was unsuccessful because referee Olivier Marteel intervened before she could cause any damage.
“I have never seen that before at a snooker event [...] it caught us all by surprise.”
Stephen Hendry, former world snooker champion
Just Stop Oil issued a statement claiming that this protest was staged because of their demands that the government immediately stop all new UK fossil fuel projects. They want UK sporting institutions to join them in civil resistance.
The man and woman, now identified as University of Exeter student Eddie Whittingham, 25, and former museum worker Margaret Reid, 52, were both detained by security and arrested on suspicion of criminal damage by South Yorkshire Police. They have been released on bail until June 15.
The World Snooker Tour decided that the damage caused by the powder paint meant that Milkins and Perry would be unable to continue their match. It was rescheduled for Tuesday, April 18. Fan and Allen, however, were able to resume their match after 40 minutes. It took four staff, including the master of ceremonies Rob Walker, to clean the snooker tables.
Grand National protests
The World Snooker Championship protest is the second time a major international sporting event has been targeted by environmental groups in just three days.
This year's Grand National, held on Saturday, 15 April, was disrupted by Animal Rising protestors. 118 protesters were arrested after they ran onto the track at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.
Who are Just Stop Oil?
Just Stop Oil is a climate activist group that is against the use of and extraction of fossil fuels, primarily oil. The nonviolent civil resistance is against the government granting new licences and agreements for fossil fuel production and demands they begin investing seriously in renewable energy.
Just Stop Oil believes that transitioning to renewable energy sources and rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to to prevent catastrophic ecological damage. A safe and sustainable future is not possible with the continued use of fossil fuels as the planet's primary source of energy.
Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion (XR)
Roger Hallam, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, has played a key role in Just Stop Oil since it was founded in February 2022.
Extinction Rebellion is a global environmental movement that demands the government take urgent, serious action on the current climate and ecological crisis. The group uses nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to the existential threat humanity faces through the collapse of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity. XR’s main demands are for the governments to declare a ecological and climate emergency and by 2025 reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero.
The climate activist group was founded in 2018 and has since earned a controversial reputation because of their tactics. XR believes large-scale disruption is the most effective way to apply pressure on the government so their protests involve occupying public spaces, blocking roads and bridges, and disrupting high-profile events.
One of XR’s most disputed protests was in October 2019, when members of the group climbed on top of London Underground trains during rush hour. They refused to move until civilians took matters into their own hands and pulled the protestors off the train. XR later admitted this protest was a mistake and it was wrong to prevent the public from being able to go to work and make a living.