Pro-Palestine activists plan to disrupt first day of Wimbledon

Guard at Wimbledon
Wimbledon will increase security to prevent pro-Palestinian supporters ruining the tournament for everyone else - Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty

Pro-Palestine groups will target Wimbledon when the tournament starts next week.

As the eyes of the sporting world turns to the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), organisers fear a planned protest by Palestine Solidarity Campaign could disrupt the tournament on the first day, including stopping crowds from entering.

Wimbledon chiefs are expected to put on extra security to prepare for the next wave of protestors who have organised a rally at SW19 on July 1.

Irish flag and pro-Palestinian leaflet
A pro-Palestinian protester shows his support - Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Palestine Solidarity Campaign said that they are targeting Wimbledon because sponsor Barclays has financed companies supplying arms to Israel in the war in Gaza.

“We need to make sure that Barclays has no place to hide from its complicity in Israel’s devastating attacks on Palestinians,” it said on its website.

Sources at Wimbledon said they would be upping security at the British Grand Slam event for both pro-Palestine protests as well as a return of anti-oil campaigners who disrupted the tournament last year.

“There is a fear that entrances will be blocked, vehicles used to get players and officials inside will also be blocked and just scenes of general chaos,” the source said.

“These groups also like to vandalise. We know that they would see it as iconic if Centre Court was to be graffitied or an entrance or something like that.

“They have caused immense damage to Barclays buildings and have boasted online of a demonstration on day one . It is a brazen invitation to cause carnage”

Last year three Just Stop Oil protestors disrupted the tournament, throwing confetti and jigsaw pieces on the court. They were charged with aggravated trespass.

There are fears protestors are preparing to do more damage this year, including glueing themselves to the court.

Two Wimbledon drag off a JSO protester
Two Wimbledon drag off a JSO protester - Adam Davy/PA

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who have organised “hate marches” in London, have announced a protest for July 1 outside the tournament.

A Wimbledon source said they were “working very hard to stop any disruption this summer”.

“The fear is Just Stop Oil glueing themselves to a court or the net,” the source said.

“This year there is the added challenge of Pro-Palestine demonstrators as well to add to it. It’s two challenges on top of everything else.”

A Met spokesman said they had been working closely with AELTC to make sure there was appropriate policing in place for the championships.

“This will include local and specialist officers working to prevent crime and disorder and providing a timely response to any emerging incidents,” he said.

“We would encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious or has any concerns to speak to officers or security at the venue.”

A spokesman for AELTC said that the safety and security of visitors to the tournament was “paramount”.

“Throughout the year we work closely with the Metropolitan Police and other relevant organisations to ensure that The Championships is as safe and secure as possible and that our plans and measures are commensurate with the threat level and prevailing risks,” he said.

“We ask that all visitors to The Championships respect the safety and enjoyment of all guests who are in attendance.”

Spate of attacks

There has been a spate of attacks from activists in recent weeks. Pro-Palestinian protesters sprayed a historic building with red paint at the University of Cambridge on Saturday, while anti-oil protestors last week damaged Stonehenge in the lead-up to the summer solstice.

Cambridge University “strongly condemned” the paint attack by pro-Palestinian groups on the 300-year-old Senate House on Saturday.

It remains unclear whether the red paint will be able to be removed ahead of this week’s graduation ceremonies.