An Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigner assisting people near the TCS London Marathon said there were “a handful of bad people” who would have wanted to stop the race to protest the climate situation.
Up to 50,000 XR activists are in Westminster, central London, for the third day of a protest dubbed ‘The Big One’, with running and rallying intersect as runners pass the Houses of Parliament.
The proximity of the two events had sparked fears that climate protesters might try to disrupt the annual race.
XR said it would not intentionally do so, but direct action protest group Just Stop Oil (JSO) declined to say whether activists might try to stop it.
We wish the marathon every success
Olly Baines, member of XR
Michel, 63, who has withheld his last name, lives in Brussels, Belgium, but traveled to central London for the four-day Extinction Rebellion protest.
Speaking at a race course barrier near Parliament on Sunday, he told the PA News Agency: ‘I am supporting the Extinction Rebellion group and today we are helping the London Marathon event as a steward as we would like to stop people from interrupting the race.
“There are a handful of naughty people who would like to block the race to protest the climate situation.
“We think a handful of people might want to take action to stop the race to protest that we’re not doing anything for the climate and we’d like to stop it because we don’t believe it’s necessary.”
London Marathon director Hugh Brasher had previously said his talks with XR had resulted in an agreement that they would “uniquely ask all of their participants to help protect the London Marathon”.
In a statement, XR member Olly Baines said: “We have worked closely with the London Marathon for six months to ensure we can co-exist safely over this weekend.
“Yesterday, with the largest walk for nature ever held in the UK at the same time as the Mini Marathon, the two events went off peacefully and without incident.”
He said the same agreement was being repeated on Sunday, adding: ‘We all want clean air, pure waters and a green, healthy planet.
“We wish the marathon every success.”
XR activists, who unfurled a ‘climate emergency’ banner in front of the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square, were among the spectators who cheered on as marathon runners passed.
In the early afternoon, no one seemed to have attempted to stop the race along the famous stretch of the marathon course.
XR campaigner Tom Crowther, 22, who cycled from Kent to join the climate group’s four-day protests, said: ‘I think many of the people supporting the marathon probably also support many of the Extinction Rebellion values. “.
On speculation that protesters might try to disrupt the race, he said: “I think it’s a pretty desperate situation we’re in globally and I wouldn’t think badly of them (if someone disrupted the race).
“But I’m here to support people who run.
“I also hope no one does (interrupt him) but we’ll see, everyone has been told not to.”
The marathon’s event director, Mr Brasher, had advised people to “watch the marathon from other places and avoid the Parliament Square area during the day” as it would be crowded.
But large crowds of spectators still turned out to cheer on riders like Sir Mo Farah.