Activist groups agree not to disrupt London Marathon

LONDON -- Environmental protesters are not planning to disrupt the London Marathon on Sunday after two other big sporting events in Britain were targeted by activists over the past week.

Extinction Rebellion, a climate activism group, is staging a four-day protest outside Parliament Square in London starting Friday but has been in talks with marathon director Hugh Brasher since November to ensure minimal disruption on the day of the race.

"It's our intention to facilitate the marathon to take place smoothly," Extinction Rebellion said Thursday.

Brasher previously said Extinction Rebellion would be asking its activists to "help guard the London Marathon" and called on other environmental groups such as Just Stop Oil to let the race take place free from protests.

A Just Stop Oil protester interrupted a match at the world snooker championship Monday by jumping on the table and releasing a packet of orange powder, causing play to be suspended.

On Saturday, the Grand National horse race was delayed after animal rights activists scaled fences around the perimeter of Aintree racecourse near Liverpool and got onto the track. A total of 118 people were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and public nuisance offenses in a bid to disrupt the race.

Just Stop Oil confirmed Thursday it had also been in talks with Brasher, and activist Anna Holland told British broadcaster GB News: "I'm just going to say now, we're not going to disrupt the marathon."

British marathoner Chris Thompson is competing in Sunday's race and said he believes it would be the wrong stage for protesters to use.

"What better statement for these causes than thousands of people running the streets of London for health and well-being reasons and raising money for charity," Thompson said at a news conference. "The race in itself is a statement. I'd like to think, if anything, the London Marathon as a sporting event stands out as something to aspire to do."

Mo Farah, a multiple-time world and Olympic champion in 5,000 and 10,000 meters, said he hoped his final London Marathon was free of protests.

"On Sunday, people want to see the best athletes go out there and put on a show," Farah said. "For us as athletes, we just have to go out there and concentrate on what we're doing. I trust in the London Marathon and the officials to do, as they always do, a great job."

The 40-year-old Farah, who has been in a training camp in Ethiopia, expects to be emotional during the race.

"I remember [when I was] 14 years old, I was here watching great athletes running on the Sunday and I was here taking part in the mini-marathon," he said. "The support, the people coming out in London, that will get to me, but I will try not think about it and run. After the race, maybe there might be a bit of tears and emotion."