Security clampdown at Aussie Open

Australian Open organisers on Thursday said there would be a heavy police presence at this year’s tournament to prevent the brawls and sexually related offences that marred the event in 2007.

Police were caught off-guard in 2007 when locally based Serbian and Croatian fans clashed on the first day of the tournament, with more than 150 ejected as rival groups attacked each other with flag poles and kicked one another.

Three men were also arrested for taking indecent photographs up female spectators’ skirts, with one subsequently jailed for two months, and a five-year-old boy was assaulted in a toilet.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said authorities were adopting a zero-tolerance policy to ensure the problems were not repeated this year.

”I’m confident the plans will work,” Tiley told reporters. ”The action and reaction to the behaviour is something we’re very confident about.

”At any time, any behaviour that’s going to harm the fan-friendly environment, then we’re going to have zero tolerance for it,” Mr Tiley said.

Victoria Police superintendent John Cooke said there would be significant police presence and increased camera surveillance at Melbourne Park for the Open, which begins next week.

”We will not accept inappropriate crowd behaviour and anyone caught doing the wrong thing will face eviction or being turned away at the entrance,” he said. — Sapa-AFP

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