LONDON - Beefed up security to prevent protesters disrupting the Wimbledon tennis championships has been put in place, organisers said on Thursday, a day after environmental protesters disrupted the Ashes cricket test at Lord's.
Just Stop Oil activists interrupted the first morning of the second test between England and Australia when they scattered orange powder on the outfield before one was carried off the field of play by home wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Protesters have disrupted other sporting events in England this year, including the Premiership Rugby final, the World Snooker Championship and the Grand National horse race, as well as other events including the Chelsea Flower Show.
Multiple media outlets in the UK have been reporting that Wimbledon is a prime target for activists with some seeing it as an unrivalled opportunity for publicity, but the All England Lawn Tennis Club is confident it has matters under control.
“We have plans in place to mitigate the risks working in partnership with specialist agencies and the Metropolitan Police and should an incident occur the appropriate specialist teams will respond,” Operations Director Michelle Dite told reporters.
“The safety and security of all our players, colleagues and visitors is paramount."
The All England Club, which hosts the grasscourt grand slam tournament, said it had been liaising with organisers of other sporting events, including the English Cricket Board, to refine best practices.
“Throughout the year we work closely with the Metropolitan Police and other relevant organisations to ensure that The Championships are as safe and secure as possible and that our plans and measures are commensurate with the threat level and prevailing risks,” Dite added.
“Based on what has happened at other sporting events, and on the advice from our key partners, we have reviewed our security plans which have now been uplifted for The Championships accordingly.”
Stringent conditions of entry go some way to mitigating the hazards of protest.
“Our Conditions of Entry, which were updated in April 2023, include guidance on prohibited items and disruptive behaviour, any breaches of these conditions will be dealt with in accordance with our code of conduct," Dite said.
Glue, cable-ties and chains and padlocks are all on the prohibited list as they can be used to disrupt events by protesters attaching themselves to property.
While chalk-dust earned its place in Wimbledon folklore through John McEnroe’s infamous 1981 “You Cannot be Serious” rant, anybody attempting to bring that substance into the grounds in 2023 – whether it be white or orange – will find themselves barred from entry.
Wimbledon runs from July 3-16.
(Reporting by Ossian Shine; Editing by Ken Ferris)