A climate change protester sets himself on fire before Roger Federer bids farewell to the Laver Cup after entering the field at London’s O2 Arena.
The strange incident occurred during the Friday afternoon session, before Federer’s final professional tennis match, scheduled for the evening session.
The protester, a 20-year-old man named Kay who is part of the climate activist group ‘End UK Private Jets’, was seen wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the same logo.
Federer and other top tennis stars, including Novak Djokovic, were seen arriving in London earlier in the week using private jets, with the Laver Cup Twitter account sharing photos of the multiple Grand Slam champions leaving private jets earlier in the week. According to their website, Federer also has a long-term sponsorship deal with Netjets, “the world’s leading private jet company.”
He was seen running onto the field at London’s O2 Arena during the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman and sat cross by the net, interrupting play during the change at the start of the second set.
But spectators, including Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg, were stunned when Kai appeared to pour lighter fluids onto his right arm and set it on fire, before unsurprisingly squabbling.
Securitymen quickly ran to the court and put out the flames before they dragged the protester away. He has been handed over to the police and taken for treatment, and Telegraph Sport understands that he will be kept in custody overnight.
Kaye is part of the climate change protest group End UK Private Jets, which claims that “carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide”.
The group’s Twitter account was only created in July of this year and has only 25 followers, with one previous post showing Kai delivering a recorded message. The post is attached to the caption: “Carbon emissions in 2022 are genocidal. We are accelerating toward the cliff of runaway avalanche – every second bringing us closer to human extinction. Elites still fly in private jets.”
Commenting on Eurosport, former American player Jim Courier sounded stunned: “Oh my God.”
Television cameras captured Tsitsipas looking at the accident and walking back to his seat as the area that caught fire had been cleaned up.
Security dealt with the incident, and Tsitsipas – who had just clinched Team Europe’s first set – was able to continue his match with Schwartzman once the pitch clean-up was complete as he went on to claim victory.
Speaking after his win, Tsitsipas said: “It came out of nowhere. I’ve never had an incident like this in court. I hope he’s okay. I wanted to make sure the stadium was playable. There was a big sign there, I wanted to clear it before continuing.”
The incident came just hours before 20-times tennis champion Federer was due to appear in court to bid farewell to the doubles match alongside his great rival Rafael Nadal, where he faces the American duo Francis Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
Andy Murray is also scheduled to play in the opening match of the evening session, with the singles match against Alex de Minaur ahead of Federer’s final professional match.
Security will be on high alert following the protest, which came in the first session of the three-day event, which continues over the weekend.
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