On Sunday, the ICC 2023 Cricket World Cup final match between India and Australia came to a brief halt, when the pitch was invaded by a man wearing a t-shirt containing the slogans "Free Palestine", and "Stop Bombing Palestine".
Wearing a face mask containing the Palestinian flag, while also carrying a rainbow-coloured flag in his hand representing the LGBTQIA+ movement, the pitch invader went up to India's batsman Virat Kohli and put his arms on his shoulders, which were then pushed away.
Over 12,000 people have been reportedly killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza strip, following Israel's retaliation to the attack by militant group Hamas on October 7, 2023. The rising death toll has led to widespread criticism of Israel for its indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
The pitch-invader was later identified as Johnson Wen, who told the media that he was a "Virat Kohli fan from Australia", and that he had rushed into the pitch to meet Virat Kohli.
However, a quick look at his social media accounts, where he goes by the moniker 'Pyjamaman', revealed that Wen has a history of interrupting international sporting events.
Earlier this year, he invaded the field during the FIFA Women's World Cup final between England and Spain, wearing a t-shirt that said "Free Ukraine" and "Stop Putler" (a portmanteau of Putin and Hitler). It also contained a mash up image of Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler.
In November 2020, Johnson posted a viral video on Instagram, where he could be seen interrupting a rugby match while wearing pyjamas to perform "The Floss", a dance move that had become an internet sensation, in the middle of the field.
According to a report by The News Minute, Wen's "floss" cost him a fine of AUS $ 220. The report also added that another fine of AUS $250 was slapped on him for performing a dangerous stunt on a footbridge in Brisbane, a video of which was uploaded by him on Instagram.
Wen is currently being held at Chandkheda Police Station in Ahmadabad for questioning, and has been booked under sections 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to any person being a public servant in discharge of his duty) and 447 (criminal trespass) of the Indian Penal Code.
During the match on Sunday, he reportedly wore an Indian team fan jersey under the "Free Palestine" t-shirt to be able to get inside without raising any alarm.
Speaking to the media, Ahmedabad City Joint Commissioner (Crime) Neeraj Badgujar said on Monday, "He entered the stadium at 1 pm and around 3 pm, when Kohli was batting, he made a run for the pitch. The police personnel tried to catch him but he climbed the 6.5-ft fence with barbed wires, which injured his hands… After the fence, he also jumped a 3-ft LED board… he ran in zig-zag fashion to reach the pitch."
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