Victoria Police has issued a strict warning to fans heading to the Australian Open: play up and you will be evicted.
The message came after a group of about 15 men were denied entry to the first grand slam of 2017 on Monday morning.
Play on day one hadn’t even started when police spotted a group who ignited flares as they walked along Birrarung Marr en route to Melbourne Park.
— Ten News Melbourne (@tennewsmelb) January 16, 2017
As a result, they were denied entry, but no arrests were made.
Police also said that the group had the cost of their tickets refunded and their details were taken.
“A group of men have been denied entry to the Australian Open,” a Victoria Police spokesperson told The New Daily.
“It’s understood the group of about 15 men, aged in their 20s, were spotted, by police, ripping a flare in Birrarung Marr as they made their way to the tennis about 10.30am (local time).
“No injuries have been reported.
“Police and Tennis Australia are happy with overall crowd behaviour so far, but warn that anyone causing trouble at the event can expect to be evicted or even face charges.”
The majority of the crowd was well behaved, though, as 47,867 fans braved the hot temperatures in Melbourne to attend the day session.
Tennis Australia response
The group were initially banned for one day but that was later upgraded to the entire tournament.
“We are a family-friendly event and have zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour,” Tennis Australia Events and Facilities Director Tom Larner said in a statement.
“Although the Major Sporting Event Act only allows for a 24-hour ban, our ticketing terms and conditions give us the right to refuse entry.
“We’ve told this group they will not be welcome back.”
Crowd violence at the tennis
It is not the first time that unruly fans have caused trouble at the Australian Open, though in recent years they have been better behaved.
In 2007, Croatian and Serbian fans clashed, and a 2008 match between Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez and Greece’s Konstantinos Economidis was delayed for 10 minutes due to “offensive chanting”.
Police struggled in an attempt to remove fans and, as others became aggressive, were forced to use pepper spray on sections of the crowd.
And in 2009, punches and chairs were thrown as Serbian and Bosnian fans fought after a Novak Djokovic-Amer Delic match.
Arrests were made after a woman was knocked unconscious after being hit by a flying chair.
Before this year’s tournament, Acting Superintendent Peter Ward told the Herald Sun: “We encourage people to attend and enjoy themselves responsibly.
“Police will be on patrol around the park to prevent disruptive behaviour and public order issues and to ensure a safe event for tennis fans.”
The Australian Open runs until January 29.