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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Ellie Ng

Security at Wimbledon boosted after protests at other sporting events

PA Wire

Security arrangements at Wimbledon have been boosted in the wake of a series of environmental protests at other large sporting events, the chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said.

Climate change group Just Stop Oil disrupted the second Ashes test at Lord’s, the Gallagher Premiership rugby final at Twickenham and the World Snooker Championship between April and July.

Chalk dust or powder substances have been banned this year and were not listed as prohibited items in 2022, according to organisers.

AELTC chief executive Sally Bolton told reporters: “Of course we’ve taken account of what we’ve seen elsewhere, so security has been uplifted in various places around the grounds.”

She added: “We are really confident in the measures that we’ve taken but I think, as we’ve seen at other sporting events, we can’t guarantee anything but we’re extremely confident that the measures we’ve got in place are the right measures and we are ready to deal with something if it happens.”

She told journalists there is “100% bag search” and “selective body search” at all gates – the latter of which will be conducted “on the basis of intelligence”.

Ms Bolton also said the club is working with behavioural detection officers from the Metropolitan Police.

“They’re not a new thing this year. We have them every year. So again they’re part of our operation this year and in a slightly enhanced way and maybe looking for slightly different things than they would in any other year,” she said.

Cable ties, glue, chains and padlocks are also listed as banned items.

The website makes it clear that visitors with any banned item “may be refused entry or ejected from the grounds” and any items surrendered as a condition of entry cannot be reclaimed.

Thousands of fans queued for the first day of the tournament on Monday but Wimbledon tweeted just before noon that people should not travel to join the queue.

It said: “Our grounds are set to be at capacity today, which means those already in the queue will be waiting several hours for admission.

“We advise people intending to queue today not to travel to Wimbledon.”

Love Island 2017 winner Kem Cetinay opened the first checkpoint just after 7am, yelling: “Let’s go,” and running through an arch in Wimbledon Park.

First in the queue, Julia Barker, 47, followed the celebrity with her green queue ticket, stamped number one, alongside her husband Nicky, 54, and son Dan, 23.

The family, who have lived in Ireland for over 20 years but are originally from Latvia, have been camping out since 7.30am on Saturday.

Dan told the PA news agency: “We didn’t expect to be first.”

He said they had hoped to secure tickets for Centre Court or Court One.

“Then we realised there was nobody here,” he added.

Sarah Hedley, a civil servant from Hull, has been to Wimbledon every year since 1995, with the exception of 2020 when the tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic.

She celebrated her 53rd birthday in the queue on Sunday and told PA: “My friend and I came in 1995.

“We were watching the six o’clock news in Birmingham and saw an article about the queue. I said, ‘I would really love to do that.’

“We were actually in the pub. We finished our second drink, went to mine, got a sleeping bag and got here at one o’clock in the morning.

Karen Mardon, from Surrey, said the Wimbledon queue is “very democratic”.

Standing in line with her three friends, all in their 60s, she told PA: “It doesn’t mean that you only get to go because you have got lots of money.”

She said it stops tickets only going to the “fantastically rich”.

Lawyer Katrin Causch flew from Berlin to join the queue for Wimbledon for the fourth time.

She arrived at Wimbledon Park at 11pm on Sunday equipped only with a sleeping bag.

Asked what the draw of Wimbledon is, she said: “It’s just Wimbledon. It’s just unbelievable. It’s great.

“It’s the famous tournament and they make it possible for people to queue getting tickets instead of paying very high prices.

“It is amazing in the queue to meet people from all over the world.”

Spectators were urged to pack raincoats and umbrellas and brace for scattered showers but there was sunshine and blue skies in south-west London early on Monday.

Warnings had also been issued around potential disruption to travel as Aslef said last month its members would withdraw non-contractual overtime with 16 of the country’s 35 rail operators for six days from Monday.

Home fans have six British players to cheer for on the first day of the tournament – Dan Evans, Jodie Burrage, Katie Swan, Jan Choinski, Harriet Dart and Liam Broady.

The competition will run until Sunday July 16.

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