Protester Throws ‘Free Palestine’ Papers on Court at Australian Open

A ‘free-Palestine’ protester briefly disrupted Monday’s Australian Open match between Alexander Zverev and Cameron Norrie by throwing anti-war pamphlets onto the court.

The papers, bearing the messages “Free Palestine” and “While you’re watching tennis bombs are dropping on Gaza,” were scattered during the sixth game of the third set on Margaret Court Arena.

Olympic champion Zverev, who won the match 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3), expressed concern about the delayed security response, questioning why it took several minutes for them to react.

A woman throws "free Palestine" leaflets onto Margaret Court Arena during the fourth round match between Alexander Zverev of Germany and Cameron Norrie of Britain at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A woman throws “free Palestine” leaflets onto Margaret Court Arena during the fourth round match between Alexander Zverev of Germany and Cameron Norrie of Britain at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Zverev emphasised that security should handle such situations promptly instead of relying on spectators to intervene.

Tennis fans assisted in removing the protester, and the match continued after ball kids gathered up the scattered pamphlets.

Norrie, who was serving during the disruption, mentioned that he didn’t feel threatened, and the incident did not impact his performance.

Tennis Australia confirmed the intervention of two spectators who stopped the protester on Margaret Court Arena, and the individual was subsequently evicted from the event.

The organisation emphasised that anyone attempting to disrupt the event would be removed.

In response to the incident, Victoria police said a small group threw pamphlets on various courts, including Margaret Court Arena and Kia Arena.

Two women, aged 35 and 36, were detained but released without charges.

Zverev, unaware of the protest’s nature until informed at a news conference, acknowledged global frustrations but emphasised that a tennis match is not directly connected to broader geopolitical issues.

He highlighted the strict security measures in place for players but criticized the delayed response in handling the disruption.

A group claiming responsibility for the protest mentioned that pro-Palestinian activists aimed to halt play on multiple courts by dropping pamphlets and playing audio simulating bombs dropping in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas conflict, which started with a Hamas attack on southern Israel, has resulted in casualties on both sides, with the Palestinian death toll surpassing 25,000 according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

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