Play has been suspended at the World Snooker Championship after a protest by members of Just Stop Oil ©Getty Images

Play was temporarily suspended on the third day of the World Snooker Championship after protesters from the group Just Stop Oil ran towards the tables and covered one with an orange powder.

In dramatic scenes at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield protesters from the environmental activist group approached both tables simultaneously around ten minutes into the evening session of play.

On table one, a male protester climbed on to the table before covering it with a dry orange powder.

On table two, a female protester approached the table and appeared to try and glue herself to it, but was prevented from doing so by referee Olivier Marteel.

Both were quickly apprehended by security staff and removed from the arena, and later a man and a woman were arrested by South Yorkshire Police.

In a tweet in which they confirmed responsibility for the protest Just Stop Oil said: "At around 7:20pm, two Just Stop Oil supporters have disrupted the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, interrupting play. 

"The pair proceeded to cover the tables in orange powder paint before being removed by security and arrested. 

"They are demanding that the Government immediately stop all new UK fossil fuel projects and are calling on UK sporting institutions to step into civil resistance against the Government’s genocidal policies."

Play resumed on table two, after a delay of around 30 minutes, with Mark Allen of Northern Ireland defeating China's Fan Zhengyi in the second session of their first-round match.

World Snooker confirmed play would not resume on table one tonight, to allow the cloth to be recovered overnight, after it was covered with the powder.

The first session of the match between English duo Robert Milkins and Joe Perry, which was due to be played on table one, will continue tomorrow, with the second session of that match now due to be played in an extra session of play on Thursday (April 20).

The protest at the World Snooker Championship comes just two days after members of Animal Rising, an animal rights protest group, delayed the start of the Grand National, the most valuable horse race over jumps in Europe by invading Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.

The race went ahead after a 15-minute delay, with Merseyside Police making 118 arrests on Saturday (April 15) in connection with activity designed to disrupt the 175th edition of the steeplechase.