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Wimbledon boosts security over climate protest fears

Wimbledon chiefs have tightened security over fears that climate activists could disrupt matches at the All England Club following high-profile protests at other sporting events.

Three protesters from Just Stop Oil ran onto the ground during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s last week, sprinkling the group’s trademark orange powder.

There were similar demonstrations during the recent World Snooker Championship and English Premiership rugby final, while the group has also targeted Premier League matches.

Just Stop Oil wants the government to end all new oil and gas exploration and has promised not to let up in its protests until it does so.

All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton, speaking before play started at the 2023 championships on Monday, said Wimbledon had boosted its security arrangements “in line with the relevant threat picture”.

“Of course we’ve taken account of what we’ve seen elsewhere so security has been uplifted in various places around the grounds,” she said.

Bolton highlighted enhanced security at the gates and around the courts and said as in previous years “behavioural detection officers” would be monitoring the crowds.

“We’re extremely confident that the measures we’ve got in place are the right measures and we’re ready to deal with something if it happens,” she said.

The chief executive said it was important to stress that the grass-court Grand Slam was committed to being “environmentally positive”.

“It really shapes a lot of the things we do here, whether that’s nothing going to landfill, whether it’s using only renewable electricity, whether it’s looking to the future and removing all gas from the estate, so we’re absolutely committed to that agenda,” she said.

“We would really appeal to those attending the championships to respect the fact that others who are coming to the championships want to view the tennis enjoyably, quietly and in a safe environment.”

Bolton also addressed the issue of Russian and Belarusian players returning to Wimbledon during her press briefing, saying it had been a “difficult decision”.

Players from both countries were banned last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We think it’s the right decision for the championships this year,” said Bolton. “All of those athletes are competing as neutrals. They’ve all signed the declaration.”

She added: “The two things that were part of the measures last year that have remained are that none of our broadcast pictures will be going into Russia or Belarus and we’re not selling any merchandise into either of those countries.”

Russian and Belarusian flags are banned from the All England Club.

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