Protester Glues Feet to Floor at US Open

4 protesters were removed from stands before semi-final match could continue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 8, 2023 5:40 AM CDT
Protester Glues Feet to Floor at US Open
An audience member yells at protesters as they demonstrate at a match between Coco Gauff, of the United States, and Karolina Muchova, of the Czech Republic, during the women's singles semifinals of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Coco Gauff's US Open semifinal victory over Karolina Muchova was delayed by 50 minutes because of a disruption by four environmental activists in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands Thursday night. One protester glued his bare feet to the concrete floor, per the AP. Gauff was leading 1-0 in the second set when play was halted. She would go on to win 6-4, 7-5. "Obviously I don't want it to happen when I'm winning up 6-4, 1-0, and I wanted the momentum to keep going," said Gauff, a 19-year-old from Florida. "But hey, if that's what they felt they needed to do to get their voices heard, I can't really get upset at it." Security guards and, later, more than a half-dozen police officers went over to confront the protesters, who were wearing shirts that read, "End Fossil Fuels."

The US Tennis Association said three of the protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident, but it took longer to remove the person who stuck his feet to the ground. The USTA added that NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove that person. All four activists were taken into police custody. A group called Extinction Rebellion said it was responsible for the protest. One of the protesters, who identified himself only as Ian, told the AP the group believes the US Open has sponsorship deals with corporations whose policies are contributing to global warming. "We are not trying to harm the athletes in any way. We have nothing against the sport," he said. "But we are really trying to draw attention to an issue here that there will be no tennis left for anybody in the world to enjoy."

It is the latest in a recent series of protests at sporting events—and tennis, in particular—related to the use of fossil fuels. At Wimbledon in July, two matches were interrupted when environmental activists jumped out of the stands at Court 18 and scattered orange confetti on the grass. At a US Open tune-up tournament in Washington last month, about a dozen people were asked to leave the site after chanting and displaying signs protesting the use of fossil fuels. "It is what it is. ... What can we do about it?" said Muchova, a 27-year-old from the Czech Republic. The other women's semifinal, between Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Madison Keys of the US, began shortly after Gauff's victory. It ended at nearly 1am, with Sabalenka winning 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10-5) to reach her second Grand Slam final. (More US Open Tennis stories.)

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