London Marathon organizers have urged spectators to watch the iconic race from home this year, fearing that Extinction Rebellion will attempt to disrupt the course this weekend with a massive four-day demo.
The eco-mob is planning a large protest in the capital from Friday to Monday as fears grow that as many as 30,000 supporters could be near Westminster for the ‘last stretch’ of the marathon on Sunday.
Hugh Brasher, event director for the TCS London Marathon, advised people to “watch the marathon from other locations and avoid the area around Parliament Square on that day” as the square and the “immediate area” will be “very busy”.
It came as Secretary of Energy Grant Shapps condemned XR for risking “causing a massive disruption” to the marathon.
Just Stop Oil, which disrupted the World Snooker Championship on Monday, would not say whether it plans to target the race.
It is feared protests could disrupt the London Marathon (pictured: Runners after crossing Tower Bridge above the River Thames in central London last October)
It is feared that as many as 30,000 Extinction Rebellion activists could protest on Sunday (Pictured: blocking Lambeth Bridge in central London in April 2022)
Dozens of eco-fanatical groups have threatened to stage their stunts in ‘new and inventive ways’ unless the government enters talks on fossil fuels (photo: Extinction Rebellion activists demonstrate at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, central London, last April)
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Shapps wrote: ‘The London Marathon is one of the largest charity fundraising events in the UK.
‘Extinction Rebellion seems to think creating mass disruption is a good idea – which you can’t believe!
“Those who are stupidly pouring millions of pounds into marathon donations should be stopped.”
XR co-founder Clare Farrell insisted the group “has no intention of disrupting their event.”
In a statement, she said: “We have been in talks with the marathon organizers since November to ensure we can run both events at the same time and support each other.
“We have assured them that we have no intention of disrupting their event.
“We both recognized that the charitable and campaign groups that support runners are unequivocally in favor of acting against climate breakdown.
“In an emergency, as we are, we need to find a way to share the streets of London as we all want to support charity, but we also need to hold the government accountable.
“Unlike our government, the marathon organizers like to have a mature conversation about the situation and how they should work together.”
On Tuesday, her fellow XR activist, Marijn van de Geer, said: ‘Having 30,000 people in the Westminster area can cause some logistical disruption, and of course there’s the London Marathon too, so it’s going to be fun and nice. busy in central London at weekends.’
XR’s program for the protests states that “the final stretch of the London Marathon” will intersect with the rally, “offering an opportunity to connect with and support those running in the marathon for causes reinforced by the climate crisis’.
XR’s planned four-day protest is supported by more than 200 organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the PCS union.
BBC presenter Chris Packham received calls to be sacked earlier this week after urging his followers to join XR eco-fanatics in a four-day protest outside parliament this weekend.
The 61-year-old nature lover asked his Twitter followers to attend the April 21-24 eco-rally in London, sparking furious reactions online.
Following his Tweet, the BBC stressed that ‘social media guidance for freelancers is underway’ following a recent outburst over a tweet from Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker.
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘We do not comment on individual tweets, but the review of our social media guidelines for freelancers is ongoing. The existing social media guidelines remain in force.’
The BBC launched an independent review of its social media guidelines for freelancers following a row over impartiality over Lineker’s tweets.
He was briefly taken off the air by the broadcaster after posting a tweet saying that the language used by the government to promote its asylum plans was similar to that of 1930s Germany.
Mr Brasher said: ‘The organizers of Extinction Rebellion have assured us that they do not want to disrupt the TCS London Marathon.’
He added that he “has been in contact with them for several months.”
“As always, we are working closely with the Metropolitan Police and other stakeholders on the safety and security of the event.”
The Metropolitan Police said they have been in contact with XR ahead of the event and will “stay in touch with them” in an “attempt to avoid serious disruption and delays to London’s communities and the other events taking place in London.”
A spokesperson said the force has a policing plan for the protests, adding: ‘People can expect a visible, engaging but forceful police presence to deal with criminal or anti-social behavior and disorder.
“In addition to a significant police response, we will deploy specialized officers to respond to protesters who lock themselves in or glue themselves to street furniture or purpose-built structures.”
A JSO spokesperson said: ‘We will continue to disrupt sporting and cultural events until sporting and cultural institutions join us in civil resistance to new new oil and gas.
‘We don’t answer questions about our plans.
“By the way, polls show that about 60% of the general public, including marathon runners and London Marathon spectators, support our demand to stop new oil and gas.”
On Tuesday, XR warned ministers it will intensify its campaigns in “new and inventive ways” if they do not agree to “end all new licensing, approvals and funding for fossil fuel projects” and “create emergency meetings of citizens to to lead fairly’. , long-term solutions to the most pressing issues of our time’.