Wimbledon on red alert for orange protest
LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - Wimbledon officials have strengthened security and will use undercover "behavioural detection officers" in an attempt to prevent environmental protests at the Championships which start on Monday.
Perfectly-manicured green lawns with crisp white lines are the worldwide image of the tournament and the prospect of somebody sprinkling orange powder, the trademark of protesters who have invaded other major sporting events, is something organisers desperately want to prevent.
“As we’ve seen in other sporting events, we can’t guarantee anything, but we are extremely confident that the measures we’ve got in place are the right measures, and we’re ready to deal with something if it happens,” Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club, told reporters at the club shortly before play began.
“Every year we work with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to review our security arrangements in line with relevant threat picture and of course. We’ve certainly uplifted security in areas such as the gates and around the course, with enhanced bag searches, and we are communicating with people to explain how that may take a little more time.
Bolton said it was not all about the numbers of people involved.
“Some of it is about the type of intelligence that we’re using and the tactics that we’re using,” she said. “A part of our security arrangements are a group of what are called behavioural detection officers – we have them every year, but maybe they will be looking for slightly different things than they would in any other year.”
Bolton stressed that the championships were committed to being “environment positive” and appealed to spectators “to respect the fact that others who are coming who want to view the tennis enjoyably quietly and in a safe environment”.
Last week’s England v Australia cricket test at Lord’s was briefly held up by powder-spreading protesters, following similar incidents at the World Snooker Championship and English Premiership rugby final.
By Mitch Phillips
(Reporting Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)