The women's semi-final match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova at the U.S. Open was brought to a halt Thursday night when a protestor glued his feet to the ground.
The match at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York was delayed when protestors began shouting about climate change while wearing shirts that read "End Fossil Fuels." The U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement that "play was halted due to a protest conducted by four spectators."
"Three of the four protesters were escorted out of the stadium without further incident," the USTA continued. "The fourth protester affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl. Due to the nature of this action, NYPD and medical personnel were needed in order to safely remove this individual from the stadium."
Sayak Mukhopadhyay, 50, was charged with disorderly conduct after he glued his feet to the concrete floor of the stands. He and Gregory Schwedock, 35, were escorted out and also charged with criminal trespass. All protestors were then taken in to police custody after being removed, according to the USTA.
Climate change activism group Extinction Rebellion has since taken responsibility for the protest. One of the protesters at the amtc told The Associated Press that the protest was held because the U.S. Open has sponsorship deals with companies whose policies are exacerbating 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.”
Gauff was leading 1-0 in the second set when play was halted for 50 minutes, before going on to win 6-4, 7-5. She said after her victory that "can't really get upset" with the protestors despite the interruption.
“I always speak about preaching about what you feel and what you believe in. It was done in a peaceful way, so I can’t get too mad at it,” Gauff told the outlet. “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. 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.”