Wimbledon’s sponsors are warning invited guests to be prepared for additional security measures after a chaotic first day trying to get into the grounds.
Fears around a protest from Just Stop Oil activists – who recently disrupted an Ashes Test – has led to airport-style security at Wimbledon, leading to major delays in getting into the All England Club.
In the Wimbledon Queue on Monday, some fans were forced to wait up to 10 hours, with extensive checks caused by staff checking thoroughly for paint, coloured powders and glue amid fears that Just Stop Oil could target the high-profile sporting event.
‘We hope you’re looking forward to your trip to Wimbledon tomorrow,’ a sponsors’ email on Monday night, as seen by Mail Sport, read.
‘You may have seen today’s news regarding additional security checks due to Just Stop Oil’s campaign that involves targeting a number of events this summer. With that in mind please allow for additional time to get through security so that you don’t miss any of the action.’
Large queues at Wimbledon has led to sponsors warning invited guests to arrive even earlier
The opening day of the 2023 championships on Monday were marred by significant delays
Those who arrived at Wimbledon on a rain-affected first day were subjected to airport-style security as staff looked out for chalk dust and powders which have been banned at the prestigious tournament for the first time ever.
Specialist undercover police spotters were also deployed in the queues to try and identify potential protesters, which could result in fans being subjected to body searches, The Telegraph reported.
Wimbledon regulars described the famous queue as the ‘worst they had ever seen’, while others chose to give up and walk away, leading to fears for those planning to attend during the rest of the first week.
Amid a flurry of criticism about the length of time it was taking to get into the grounds, Wimbledon admitted that queues were longer than previous years.
In a statement they said: ‘There has been a high demand from members of the public to join the queue on day one at Wimbledon.
‘Understandably our security team on the gates are conducting an enhanced bag check operation.
‘While there has been a steady stream of guests entering the grounds since gates opened at 10 am, entry via the queue has been at a slower rate than previous years as a result of these checks.’
Speaking about increased security, 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’.
The Queue was particularly problematic, with some fans claiming they waited for 10 hours
Security are checking for powders and paints, which are prohibited items this year
Marvin Humes was among those being put through airport-style security measures on Monday
Ticket holders online noted an increase in time in the security process on gates on Monday morning – with arrangements uplifted in the wake of a series of environmental protests at other sporting events.
Chalk dust or powder substances have been banned this year and were not listed as prohibited items in 2022, according to organisers.
Cable ties, glue, chains and padlocks are also listed as banned items.
It comes after Just Stop Oil disrupted the first morning of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, storming the pitch with orange powder. England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took matters into his own hands by carrying one of them off the pitch.
Wimbledon’s 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.
Spectators were urged to pack raincoats and umbrellas and brace for scattered showers.
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.