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When sports spectators turn protestors

Heavy fines and bans have reduced pitch invasions, but as was seen in Sydney with the Adani protests, some activists don’t mind paying the price.

December 05, 2020 / 12:13 PM IST
Protesters hold up banners as they interrupt the one day international cricket match between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Protesters hold up banners as they interrupt the one day international cricket match between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

During Australia’s commanding victory over India in the first one-day in Sydney, one man faced a bouncer even though he was not on the field - Gautam Adani.

Two men sprinted on to the ground during play carrying banners against Adani, whose coal mine in Australia has angered activists. They believe the mine pollutes water and air and negatively affects the lives of indigenous people. The posters also opposed the State Bank of India’s rumoured $1 billion loan to Adani.

A major sporting event is a powerful platform to make statements. And over the years people have broken into grounds to make their point. Clothing is optional for this breed, as the many instances of streaking in history prove.

It’s become harder to breach playing areas, however. Security is tight at venues. Corpulent and waddling guards such as the ones in Sydney are rare. Money is a bigger deterrent to interlopers. Pitch invasions attract hefty fines and lengthy bans. The two offenders in Sydney are likely to be fined $5,000 each.