Laver Cup 2022: Climate change protester storms the court, lights arm on fire

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Just hours before tennis great Roger Federer was set to play his final match ever at the 2022 Laver Cup, a match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman was halted on Friday after a British protester stormed the court and lit his arm on fire to protest the use of private jets.

A man wearing a T-shirt that read “End UK Private Jets” ran onto Center Court at the O2 Arena in London where he proceeded to light his arm on fire.

A protester is removed after invading the court, wearing a slogan "End UK Private Jets" during the singles game between Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Europe and Argentina's Diego Schwartzman of Team World at the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London on Sept.  23, 2022.

A protester is removed after invading the court, wearing a slogan “End UK Private Jets” during the singles game between Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Europe and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman of Team World at the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London on Sept. 23, 2022.
(GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

He quickly put the flames out on his arm before security rushed onto the court to extinguish the remaining fire and drag the man out.

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The court was not damaged in the demonstration. The man involved belongs to a group that claims “carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide,” Reuters reported, citing local media.

A man sets fire on his hand during protest at a match Team World's Diego Schwartzman against Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas on day one of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 in London, Friday, Sept.  23, 2022.

A man sets fire on his hand during protest at a match Team World’s Diego Schwartzman against Team Europe’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on day one of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 in London, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The protester “has been arrested and the situation is being handled by the police,” Laver Cup organizers said in a statement.

“It came out of nowhere. I have no idea what this is all about. I never had an incident like this happen on court. I hope he is all right,” Tsitsipas said of the incident, through SkySports.

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“I wanted to proceed the match without having any minor changes to the court and to make sure it was playable, especially that area. It also got in my way of viewing experience, the way I saw the court later. There was a big mark over there and I just wanted to get it cleared up.”

A protester lights a fire on the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London Friday, Sept.  23, 2022.

A protester lights a fire on the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.
(John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Thankfully for Tsitsipas, the incident did not derail his game and he overcame Schwartzman for 6-2, 6-1 victory for Team Europe over Team World.

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Federer will make an appearance on the same court Friday evening when he partners with longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadal in a double’s match – his final before retiring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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