Laver Cup: Climate activist sets his arm on fire at London tennis event in protest against private jets

O2 ARENA — A climate change activist set fire to his own arm after making his way onto the Laver Cup court in London.

The alarming incident occurred during Stefanos Tsitsipas’ match against Diego Schwartzman on Friday afternoon, which preceded Roger Federer’s final-ever match in the evening.

During a break in play, the protestor could be seen wearing a white t-shirt bearing the slogan “End UK private jets” as he ran onto the court with a bottle before taking a seat by the net.

He used a lighter to start a fire, which set both his right arm and the court ablaze, while he could then be heard screaming as he attempted to put the fire on his arm out.

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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)
A man sets fire to his own arm in protest against private jets (Photo: AP)

Security then made their way onto the court, with one opting to extinguish the fire with their own suit blazer before the protestor was eventually carried off.

Eurosport are broadcasting the three-day team event in the UK, but their footage did not capture the incident.

A protester lights a fire on the court on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Friday September 23, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Laver Cup. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
A member of security used his blazer to put out the fire (Photo: PA)

However, fan footage soon circulated on social media, showing the protestor writhe while sitting down to ensure the fire on his right arm would not persist for too long.  

“It came out of nowhere. I had no idea what this was all about. I’ve never had an incident like this before on court. I hope he’s alright,” Tsitsipas said afterwards.

Tennis - Laver Cup - 02 Arena, London, Britain - September 23, 2022 A protester is removed from the court during the match between Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas and Team World's Diego Schwartzman Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
The protester was removed from the court during the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman (Photo: Reuters)

Asked about whether his discussion with the umpire was to ensure the court was playable, the Greek replied: “Correct.

“I wanted to proceed that match without having any minor changes to the court. I wanted to make sure it was playable, especially that area. It also got in my way, the way I saw the court later, there was a big mark and I wanted it to be cleaned up.”

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