Food ban at ATP tennis tour finals over 'terror fears'

O2 Arena Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena end on Sunday

Sandwiches and sweets were confiscated from tennis fans attending matches at the O2 Arena because of the UK's raised terror threat, organisers have claimed.

Ticket holders attending the ATP World Tour Finals said they were "shocked and disappointed" to have their snacks and drinks taken by security upon arrival.

Some fans claimed the reason was that the venue's food outlets were not making enough money.

Organisers said fans were told about the "security measures" beforehand.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Dozens of fans expressed their anger at the measures on social networking sites

In August, the UK's terror threat level was raised from "substantial" to "severe" in response to conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

While hand luggage restrictions on liquids remain at UK airports, the Department for Transport said (DfT) there were no restrictions on solid foods, such as fruit and sandwiches.

Wine gum smuggling

Martin Allpress, 58, from Essex, said security prevented him and his wife from taking in grapes, homemade sandwiches in a Tupperware container and some oranges.

"They just threw the food and drink into a big bin," he told BBC News.

"It was nothing to do with security, it was clearly to boost the profit of businesses inside the venue.

"I managed to get in some wine gums by hiding them."

He said he was "disappointed" and people queuing were "pretty disgusted".

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption One man managed to smuggle in some wine gums, while others had sweets confiscated
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some of the world's biggest tennis stars including Roger Federer are playing at the O2 Arena

Alison Williams, from south-west Scotland, attended the event on Sunday and Monday and said "everybody was eating inside the venue, they had bags full of food on the first day".

"On the Monday staff told us they had changed the rules overnight because the food outlets weren't making enough money," she added.

"Security wanted to confiscate my chocolate I had for the children, but I managed to convince him to allow me to take it in because they were for the kids."

Ms Williams, 45, said she paid £5 for a large cup of fizzy pop and nearly £4 for a coffee. She described the prices inside the venue as "extortionate".

UK terror threat

Margaret Williams, from Northamptonshire, said: "We've been attending the venue for six years and it's the first time security wanted to confiscate our Marks and Spencer's lunch of sandwiches, sweets and crisps.

"We were shocked. People weren't even allowed to take in packets of sweets.

"I have O2 priority tickets so they let us leave the food in the cloakroom to collect later but others weren't so lucky."

Blanket ban

In a statement, the O2 Arena and ATP World Tour said: "The event's policy on food and beverages being brought into the arena is one of a number of additional security measures being implemented this year.

"In addition to being printed on the tickets, the additional security measures have been communicated via email to all ticket holders prior to the event."

The O2 Arena said it was "easier, fairer and quicker for all guests to have a blanket 'no food and drink policy' than get into specifics, which would be unmanageable and cause unnecessary delays".

An ATP spokesman added the policy was introduced as a result of the increased terror threat.

The ATP World Tour Finals are being held at London's O2 Arena between 9 and 16 November. Results and schedules are available on the BBC Sport website.

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