A snooker table doused with powder has been resurfaced and is back in play at the world championships amid warnings that security in the sport will need to change.
Sheffield’s famous Crucible arena was invaded by two people on Monday evening, with a man climbing on the table and releasing a packet of dye to a chorus of boos and jeers.
A woman’s attempt to glue herself to the other table was thwarted by quick-thinking referee Olivier Marteel.
Play was suspended as four staff vacuumed the cloth, with master of ceremonies Rob Walker praised for mucking in with rubber gloves and a heavy-duty hoover.
Commentator Stephen Hendry told viewers: “You just hope the cloth can be recovered from that. It caught us all by surprise and then this happens.”
The seven-time champion added: “For me, straight away as a snooker player I am thinking: ‘Is the table recoverable?’ We don’t know what that is on the table.”
But Tuesday’s first-round match between Jack Lisowski and Noppon Saengkham started as planned after the table was recovered overnight.
Just Stop Oil said it was behind the Crucible invasion following similar protests in London when luxury shops were covered in orange paint.
The protest group said the demonstrators were Exeter University student Eddie Whittingham, 25, and Margaret Reid, 52, a former museum professional from Kendal, Cumbria.
A man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, South Yorkshire Police said.
Concerns over snooker security
Mark Allen, who was on the other table playing Fan Zhengyi, described the kafuffle in the normally serene Crucible arena.
“I heard a bang, that I thought it was on the other table, and then I turned round and there was a woman on my table,” said the Northern Irish player.
“It could have been a lot worse – you saw what happened on the other table and how much disruption it caused.
“I feel like even talking about it is giving them airtime they don’t deserve because they are just idiots. What are they trying to gain from what they have done? I am sure there are better ways to get their point across.”
Snooker events have fairly unobtrusive security with the audience very close to players – but measures at the 980-capacity Crucible and other events could now be tightened.
The former chairman of the World Snooker Tour, Barry Hearn, said the sport was an “easy target” but that he wasn’t surprised it had been targeted.
“Something that is so accessible like the Crucible. So small, so private – you can reach out and almost shake hands with the players,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Former world champion Shaun Murphy also said tournaments would need to change their arrangements.
“I have been saying for a long time that security protocols and access are too weak,” he told the station.
“Snooker is a soft target and I would hate it, but I see it as an inevitability for the relationship between fans and sport to change.”
Monday’s stunt followed over a hundred arrests of animal rights activists at the Grand National on Saturday as they tried to invade the Aintree course and disrupt the race.