Threat Level Is High In Belgium Ahead of Davis Cup Final

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

Daivs Cup Tennis News

With Brussels continuing under to be under a full security lockdown with the Belgian government increasing its national threat level to serious and imminent, concerns over this weekend’s Davis Cup final just 35 miles distant in Ghent remain so high that former British no.1 Tim Henman has cancelled plans to go and support Andy Murray and Co.

Henman, a veteran of 54 Davis rubbers including the immediate post 9/11 trip to Ecuador in 2001, had booked tickets to travel on Eurostar to Brussels with his wife Lucy and three daughters. However the situation the escalating situation in nearby Brussels over the weekend, caused the 41 year-old to change his mind.

“I was going to go but I am not anymore,” revealed Henman. “I was going to take the three girls, but with the train and the going over there, I just thought: ‘Is it really worth the hassle for them?’ So we are going to be watching at home.”

But the Flemish Tennis Federation (FTF), who are actually staging the final were this morning insisting it would go ahead, starting Friday. Chief executive Gijs, is in regular contact with the Belgian government and told BBC Sport that he has “not yet had a signal that it’s not safe to organize the event”.

Kooken added: “It is an event with international exposure, with 13,000 spectators a day, so it is a risk event, of course, in the current situation – but I’m very confident in our government.

“Of course you never can predict what will happen next, but I would be surprised if it was cancelled. I’m quite confident that we will play next weekend.”

The British team delayed their departure for Ghent by 24 hours but finally flew out of London this morning on a private jet and security demands decreed the airport of arrival in Belgium remained classified information.

On Sunday night, an LTA spokesman said: ” The team are very much looking forward to departing for Ghent tomorrow, and, unless otherwise advised, we are determined to go to the final.

“But the players and the captain thought it better, under the circumstances, to practice together here in London rather than off-site on a different surface there as practice facilities at the Flanders Expo, where the final is being played, were not available until Monday.

“Ghent is still at Level 3 security, the same as London – and the same as the rest of Belgium, apart from Brussels, which is Level 4.”

Meanwhile the majority of British supporters, and an expected 2,000 will cross the English Channel, are intending to make the trip. “I’ve only heard from one person who is definitely not going,” said Mary Pope, chairman of the British Association of Tennis Supporters. “People are definitely concerned but we haven’t cancelled our plans at this stage and are hoping to go.”

The BATS were formed after Britain’s last appearance in the Davis Cup final, 27 years ago in Palm Springs, California and Pope added: “I think everyone is keeping an eye on the situation and there is some concern about travelling through Brussels. It’s a case of wait and see, but we hope it goes ahead.”

The International Tennis Federation, responsible for security at any Davis Cup tie, advised the official British party to fly across the English Channel rather than catch the Eurostar train to the center of Brussels. It is understood the LTA has chartered a private jet to take Smith and the five man team plus coaches, physiotherapists and team doctors.

ITF President David Haggerty released a statement on Sunday, saying: “Over the last week, the ITF has been in constant contact with the relevant authorities, the Royal Belgian Tennis Federation, the Lawn Tennis Association and our risk assessment company and this dialogue continues.

“We are aware that Belgium has raised the terror alert level for Brussels. This greatly concerns us but, at the present time, we are still continuing with preparations for the final.

“What I said last weekend is true today: security of players, fans, media and working staff remains our highest priority.”

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.