Phil Walter/Getty Images via Daylife
An unattended bag in the stands led to the evacuation of between 300 – 500 tennis fans from the stadium at the ASB Classic in Auckland on Tuesday morning, Stuff.co.nz reports. The bag’s contents were deemed a non-threat and people were allowed to return soon after, postponing the morning’s start of play by about 20 minutes.
This is reportedly the owner of the threatening parcel, being “comforted” by an official:
Photo by JOHN SELKIRK/Stuff.co.nz
Officials said that tightened security measures at the event had nothing to do with the fact that Israeli player, Shahar Peer, was about to play her first round match (via Stuff.co.nz):
“We believe we needed to be erring on the side of caution and be responsible in this bag being unattended,” (Tennis Auckland CEO Greg Bramwell) said.
“From day one we’ve put additional security on for this tournament, it hasn’t been because of Shahar Peer or any individual, we felt we needed to be diligent in the process we took from a security perspective.”
Last year, Peer’s appearance at the tournament coincinded with a major Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip. About 20 protesters gathered outside the Auckland courts with megaphones to call for her withdrawal from the tournament. About 8 protestors have gathered at the tournament so far this year. The group says it’s sent Peer a letter requesting that she withdraw from the tournament “as a demonstration of (her) commitment to peace.”
Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images via Daylife
Peer shows little inclination to submit to this request, instead beating Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 7-5 6-3 out on court four.
As of post time, Flavia Pennetta, Yanina Wickmayer and Dominika Cibulkova are also through to the second round. Second seed Li Na is down a set to Kaia Kanepi. Click here for more results from the ASB Auckland.