Laver Cup protester sets arm on fire on court ahead of Roger Federer’s farewell

A climate change activist protests against UK private jets while lighting his right arm on fire during the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 23 September 2022 – ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A protester wearing a T-shirt reading “End UK private jets” set himself on fire after getting on court at the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena.

The bizarre incident occurred during Friday’s afternoon session, ahead of Roger Federer’s farewell appearance that is scheduled for later in the evening.

A climate change activist protests against UK private jets while lighting his right arm on fire during the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 23 September 202 - Shutterstock

A climate change activist protests against UK private jets while lighting his right arm on fire during the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 23 September 202 – Shutterstock

The 20-year-old climate activist, named Kai, ran onto the court at London’s O2 Arena during the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman and sat crossed leg next to the net, interrupting play during the changeover at the start of the second set.

A protester invades 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 September 23, 2022 - AFP

A protester invades 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 September 23, 2022 – AFP

But onlookers, including Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg, were left stunned when Kai appeared to pour lighter fluid onto his right arm and set it on fire, before unsurprisingly grimacing.

Security quickly ran onto the court and put out the flames, before dragging the protester away.

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Stewards remove a protester after setting fire to the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Friday September 23, 2022 - PA

Stewards remove a protester after setting fire to the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Friday September 23, 2022 – PA

Kai is part of the ‘End UK Private Jets’ climate change protest group, which claims that “carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide”.

The group’s Twitter account was only created in July of this year and has just 25 followers, with one previous post featuring Kai delivering a recorded message. The post is accompanied with the caption: “Carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide. We’re accelerating towards the cliff of runaway collapse – every second takes us closer to human extinction. And the elites are still flying in private jets.”

 Stewards remove a protester after setting fire to the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Friday September 23, 20 - PA

Stewards remove a protester after setting fire to the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Friday September 23, 20 – PA

On commentary for Eurosport, former American player Jim Courier sounded startled saying: “Oh my.”

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The TV cameras captured Tsitsipas looking at the incident and walking back to his bench as the area of the court that was on fire was cleaned.

The incident was dealt with by security, Tsitsipas – who had just clinched the first set for Team Europe – was able to continue his match with Schwartzman.

The incident came just hours before 20-time Grand Slam tennis champion Federer is due to appear on court for his farewell appearance in a doubles match alongside great rival Rafael Nadal as the pair face the American duo of Francis Tiafoe and Jack Sock.

Andy Murray is also scheduled to be in action in the opening match of the evening session, with his singles match against Australia’s Alex de Minaur preceding Federer’s final professional outing.

Security will be on a heightened alert following the protest, which came in the first session of the three-day event that continues over the weekend.

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