Play was halted at the Crucible during the World Snooker Championship after a protester wearing a Just Stop Oil T-shirt ran onto the arena, jumped onto the table, and scattered a bag of orange powder across the surface.
The incident occurred during Robert Milkins’ clash with Joe Perry in the afternoon session, forcing a delay of around 40 minutes before play resumed.
“We have a protester who is throwing dust on the table. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” the shocked Eurosport commentator said as events unfolded.
“He is being booed roundly by the audience, but the game will have to be suspended while the mess on the table is dealt with.
“I don’t know why you’re protesting and frankly I don’t care, luckily no one was hurt and they’ll have to try to clean up all that mess.”
Angry shouts were heard from the crowd present, along with scattered applause as the protester was removed.
A separate wide-angle camera shot appeared to show a second protester stopped before reaching another table, where Mark Allen and Fan Zhengyi were playing, apparently trying to adhere to it.
Eurosport later reported that the matter was being dealt with by the police, and that all four players involved in the two matches had returned to the locker room.
“Story created in the Crucible, though not the kind of story we’d like. But hopefully no one seems to be hurt,” said host Rishi Persad.
“Protesters causing trouble at the World Championships is not something we predicted, but these things are happening with increasing regularity. All the players are leaving the arena.”
Former world champion Stephen Hendry, acting as a commentator for the BBC, said: “I’ve never seen that before in a snooker event. It is the first one.
“That’s scary. Wow! You just hope the fabric can recover from that. It took us all by surprise and then this happened.
“For me, immediately as a pool player, I’m thinking, ‘Is the table retrievable?’ We don’t know what’s on the table.”
Just Stop Oil released a statement saying: “At around 7:20pm, two Just Stop Oil supporters disrupted the World Championship Snooker at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, disrupting the game.
“The couple proceeded to cover the tables in orange powder paint before being removed by security and arrested. They are demanding that the government immediately halt all new UK fossil fuel projects and are calling on UK sporting institutions to engage in civil resistance against the government’s genocidal policies.”
World Snooker Tour officials confirmed that the match between Allen and Zhengyi would resume after a delay of approximately 45 minutes.
The affected table in the Milkins-Perry matchup was covered and will be redressed overnight, with a decision to be made later on whether the match between them will resume after the conclusion of Allen-Zhengyi.
Over the weekend, the Grand National was the subject of protests from animal rights groups and a horse died after delayed proceedings.
Additional reporting by PA