A climate change protestor caught some heat in the most literal sense during Day 1 of the Laver Cup before the second set between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman on Friday. The man started a fire on the court at the O2 Arena and set his own arm ablaze in the process.
The protestor was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt with black letters that read “end UK private jets.” He ran on the court and quickly sat by the net before pulling out a lighter and starting a fire on the hardcourt surface. His right arm caught some flames and he scrambled to put them out. Once he did, he sat criss cross as security ran to get him.
“A man accessed the court this afternoon and was promptly removed by security,” the Laver Cup said in a statement. “Play was stopped briefly, he has been arrested and the situation is being handled by the police.”
According to The Guardian, his arm catching on fire might have not been an accident.
“The protestor is believed to represent Sacrifice for Survival, a climate emergency protest initiative that previously saw its activists set themselves on fire each day with the aim of stopping flights between locations inside the United Kingdom,” 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’s all about,” Tsitsipas said. “I never had an incident like this happen on-court, so I hope he’s all right.”
There was a brief delay as the court got cleaned up. Tsitsipas spent some time speaking with the umpire to make sure it was safe to resume the game.
“I wanted to proceed the match without having any minor changes to the court and to make sure it was playable, especially that area,” he said. “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.”
Tsitsipas wrapped up the evening with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Schwartzman. One of the spectators of the scary incident was Roger Federer, who was sitting courtside with his team. The Swiss veteran is playing his last ATP match on Friday at the doubles events along with longtime rival Rafael Nadal.