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Security tightened at French Open in wake of attacks

The men's cup, left, and women's cup are seen before the draw of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Friday, May 20, 2016 in Paris. The French Open starts Sunday May 22. (AP Photo/Bertrand Combaldieu)
May 20, 2016 - 9:47 AM

PARIS - Security will be tighter than ever at the French Open in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris last November.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said there will be three mandatory check points for entry into Roland Garros, and spectators will be subjected to systematic body searches.

The FFT declined to give the precise number of security agents being deployed, saying only it was up by 25 per cent compared to last year.

There will also be two perimeters of barriers outside the venue, plus police sniffer dogs.

"It's true that players sometimes are asking us questions, but they are globally satisfied," French Open director Guy Forget said on Friday. "They know we took all necessary measures in the past, and that they will be implemented this year again."

There was a breach in security last year when a teenager managed to make it out of the stands and stroll across the court to get near Roger Federer, using a cellphone to try to snap photos.

In the 2009 French Open final, a fan ran onto the court and put a hat on Federer's head, while three years ago a man who jumped onto the court with a lit flare briefly interrupted the final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

"I believe," Nadal said, "that people who organize the event and the whole city is 100 per cent focused on making the event safe for everybody, not only for the players. For the fans and everybody."

Asked about the previous incidents at Roland Garros, top-ranked Novak Djokovic said he "never had an issue with security in this tournament. "

"I'm aware of events that you've mentioned. Certainly, with what has happened several months ago in Paris and where the world is at this moment, of course we need to tighten up the security," Djokovic said. "You know, better safe than sorry."

In the wake of the attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, France remains in a state of emergency which was recently extended by two months and will cover the French Open, the European Championship in June-July, and the Tour de France in July.

It expands police powers to put people under house arrest and allows authorities to forbid the movement of people and vehicles at specific times and places.

Forget said the security plan for the French Open, which was devised in collaboration with Paris police, might result in longer queues at the stadium entrances, where metal detectors will be set up.

A few hours before Friday's draw ceremony, a first aid worker who tried to enter the stadium without stopping at a security check point was asked to line up with fans and journalists in order to be searched.

Top-ranked Serena Williams said she noticed the changes in the security setup.

"That's something I think a lot of the players wanted (...), a little bit more security," she said.


AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed to this story.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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