A protester wearing a T-shirt reading ‘End UK private jets’ set himself on fire after entering the pitch at the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena.
The strange incident happened during Friday’s afternoon session, ahead of Roger Federer’s farewell appearance scheduled for later in the evening.
The 20-year-old climate activist, named Kai, ran onto the pitch at London’s O2 Arena during the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwarzman and sat cross-legged next to the net, disrupting play during the change at the start of the second set. .
But onlookers, including Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg, were stunned when Kai appeared to pour lighter fluid into his right hand and set it on fire, before unexpectedly grimacing.
Security quickly ran to the courthouse and extinguished the flames, before dragging the protester away.
Kai is part of the climate change protest group ‘End UK Private Jets’ which claims ‘carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide’.
The group’s Twitter account was only created in July this year and has just 25 followers, with a previous post where Kai delivered a recorded message. The post was accompanied by the caption: “Carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide. We are accelerating towards the precipice of runaway collapse – every second brings us closer to human extinction. And the elites still fly in private jets.”
Commenting on Eurosport, former US player Jim Courier was heard saying: “Oh my”.
Television cameras captured Tsitsipas looking at the incident and returning to his bench as the area of the court that was on fire was cleared.
The incident was dealt with by security, Tsitsipas – who had just won the first set for Team Europe – was able to continue his match against Schwartzman.
The incident came just hours before 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer took to the court for his farewell doubles appearance alongside arch-rival Rafael Nadal, as the pair face American duo 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 Australian Alex de Minaur preceding Federer’s final professional outing.
Security will be on high alert following the protest, which came at the first session of the three-day event which continues over the weekend.