14th January 2016
As the cream of world tennis, their coaches and their fans descend on Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of 2016, security officials have been working around the clock to ensure this year’s tournament runs smoothly. As the players battle their way through gruelling matches in sizzling temperatures, organisers have reassured spectators that security will be stepped up, following an embarrassing breach during last year’s event.
During last year’s men’s final between Novak Djorkovic and Andy Murray, two intruders managed to make their way on to the court, getting through sports fencing and past security guards. Intending to make a political point about Australia’s refugee policy, the two intruders were quickly restrained and arrested and play was only halted for a few minutes. Following the France terror attacks and the thwarted bomb plot outside a football stadium on the outskirts of Paris in November, however, the public is understandably nervous and officials have had to allay fears by increasing security for this year’s event.
Victoria police have assured spectators that there is no specific threat to anyone coming into Melbourne Park and the Australian terror threat level has not changed. Following advice from security experts, however, a thorough bag checking operation will be enforced along the security gates to the site. Police have therefore advised ticket holders to arrive in plenty of time as there are likely to be queues or delays getting through security. A perimeter fence has been erected and Victoria police and security officials will be on patrol around the site to allay fears and minimise anti-social behaviour.
Craig Tiley, head of the Australian Open organisation team, is confident that the added security measures will ensure a safe and secure event for spectators and players alike. And to anyone considering a protest in a similar vein to last year, the message is clear: anyone breaching security or behaving in an anti-social manner will be evicted from the site and criminal charges will be brought against them.