The World Snooker Championship first-round match between Robert Milkins and Joe Perry has been rescheduled.
The pair had just begun their round-of-32 fixture at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield when a ‘Just Stop Oil’ protester disrupted play.
Jumping on the snooker table, the man released a bag of orange powder that smeared half of the baize around the pink and black spot area.
On the neighbouring table, a woman attempted to pull another stunt but was prevented from doing so by referee Olivier Marteel before security was able to step in.
The mess on table one after the remarkable incident was too vast, however, to be cleaned up in time – leading to an unexpected suspension of play overnight for Milkins and Perry.
The English duo will instead contest their first session during what was supposed to be their second-session slot on Tuesday evening.
Their second session will then move to Thursday morning at 9:30am, a period that is traditionally one of the rare mornings of rest during the gruelling 17-day tournament.
As expected, reaction to the bizarre spectacle has spread like wildfire throughout the news and on social media.
While some have expressed their support for people’s right to protest, the majority has questioned whether or not this was an appropriate time and place.
The protesters have certainly raised awareness for their cause, of that there is no doubt, but for many there is anger in the manner in which it has been conducted.
“It’s pretty shameful quite honestly,” former Masters champion and world number six Alan McManus said on Eurosport.
“It’s a sorry affair all round – it’s needless. If you want to protest something, do it in the correct channels.”
“Don’t bring it to our doorstep. We don’t need it, and we don’t deserve it.”
For both Robert Milkins and Joe Perry it is a difficult set of circumstances, but it is perhaps fortunate that they are two of the most experienced players on the tour so should be less impacted than, say, a debutant may have been.
Fans inside the arena at the time, who had forked out money for expensive tickets, will also have to be compensated in some way, although with the partition between the tables raised, supporters were able to watch the end of the encounter involving Mark Allen and Fan Zhengyi.
Upon potting the first ball to applause following the interruption of play, Allen quipped, ‘I don’t what all the fuss was about.’
The Pistol completed a 10-5 victory over the young Chinese competitor to reach the last 16, compiling breaks of 126, 101, and 64 during the second session.
“I heard a bang,” the third seed said during his post-match interviews when reacting to the protest.
“I thought it was on the other table. I turned around, and there was someone on the table.”
“I feel like even speaking about it…I don’t feel like we should be giving them any air time – just complete idiots.”
Day three, meanwhile, saw two other players reach the second round with Hossein Vafaei and Mark Williams defeating Ding Junhui and Jimmy Robertson respectively.
Four-time former champion John Higgins also enjoyed a positive start to his 2023 World Championship campaign, establishing a 7-2 lead against David Grace.
For the full World Snooker Championship draw, results, live scores, and session times, click here.
Featured photo credit: WST