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Security measures during the Wimbledon Tennis Championship have been increased in light of the recent string of attacks in the United Kingdom.
In Wimbledon Park, where there is usually a festival-like atmosphere as camping fans queue overnight, there will be a surrounding wall of waist-high concrete barriers. And with the threat of drive-up attacks still fresh in people’s minds after the Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Finsbury Park atrocities, there will also be checkpoints in the roads surrounding the AELTC.
“It is just more [security] every year,” Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis recently told ESPN in the lead-up to the Grand Slam event.
Metropolitan Police said there is no specific threat to The Championships, but police presence will be more visible. Armed officers, whom the public saw for the first time inside the Wimbledon gates last year, will be patrolling in and around the grounds. Extensive bag checks, fan searches, bomb-sniffing dogs and plainclothes officers will be further parts of the counterterrorism effort.
According to espn.com, Metropolitan Police would not divulge official numbers but said through a spokesperson that it was deploying a “significant number of resources to support the [AELTC] to deliver a really safe, secure competition this year.”
Last year’s security at Wimbledon was obvious to all. The national terror threat level was “severe” at that point, defining that an attack was highly likely. The danger is now again at that second-highest level after briefly being raised to “critical” earlier in the year.
Many major sporting events, including the FA Cup final, Champions League final and the ICC Champions Trophy in cricket, have taken place throughout the United Kingdom without incident or affected attendances since the bomb blast following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in late May.
Players inside the All England Club have consistently received a high level of protection, with security staff overseeing their entrances and accompanying them around public areas. They also have access to a network of underground tunnels between many of the courts, adding another safety layer.
Wimbledon reported an operating profit of £42 million (just over $55 million U.S.) in the past year and pays for more protection than advised by security forces including the Metropolitan Police. It has tried to learn from previous terrorist atrocities and increased its initial, extensive security plan after the recent attacks.