Thousands of anti-government demonstrators protested outside a stadium in Sri Lanka’s southern coastal city of Galle during the country’s Test cricket match against Australia, the world’s No. 1. 1st team, on Saturday.
Local media showed videos of large crowds protesting against the government outside the Galle International Stadium, which is about two hours from Colombo. They waved Sri Lankan flags and carried banners reading “Power to the People” and “GotaGoHome” demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign over his handling of the country’s severe economic crisis.
Many protesters then violated the police ban on marching to the top of the fort overlooking the stadium grounds, where they continued to hold banners and chant their demands.
However, the protests did not stop the performance.
Australian cricket commentator Adam Collins, reporting from the stadium, described “unusual scenes in Halle”.
“Protesters in cranes, others in truck beds – it’s tense now, louder than ever, and there’s nowhere to go,” he said on Twitterdescribing what it looked like outside the stadium.
Amid economic turmoil and widespread protests in the island nation, the Australian cricket team arrived in Sri Lanka in the first week of June to play two Tests, five One Day International (ODI) matches and three Twenty20 International (T20I) matches against the Lions.
“We’ve been following the game closely, and we talked about it at our team meetings,” Australian captain Pat Cummins told reporters last week.
“We are so lucky to come here and get to know Sri Lanka quite well. We certainly see the effect, even with buses seeing miles of queues around gas stations, so it really hit us. No matter what the outcome is, we are in a truly privileged position. There are many people who do this for us to play cricket,” he added.
Friday Cummins tweeted, “Sri Lanka is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in decades,” and shared a video in which he sat down with two local Sri Lankans to talk about their experiences and what is happening on the ground. He also shared a link to UNICEF and asked people to support the children of Sri Lanka affected by the economic crisis.