The organizers of the next week’s tournament in Acapulco have a big challenge ahead keeping the players safe while at the same time attracting fans to Hotel Fairmont Acapulco Princess, the long-time host of the event.
The beach side city of Acapulco was just called by Mexico-based Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice as the second most violent city in the world.
At the beginning of February, six Spanish female tourists were gang raped about seven miles away from The Princess by armed gun men, an unusual event when it comes to tourists being attacked, but not altogether odd for nationals in a city that has been wracked by violence for decades.
In response, tournament director Raul Zurutuza told CNN Mexico that his organization had already set in place a safety plan that was approved by the ATP (and presumably the WTA since it is a combined event) .
“A week after the [rapes] occurred there was an exchange of emails and it appeared like it had an effect on [what we had planned] but in reality it had no effect,” he said, adding that just like everywhere in the world. “There are places where players have to be very careful, but here we must act responsibly with them,” he said.
There are also reports that the tournament will deploy a security operation of some 4,000 personnel, which presumably is going to be paid for by the government in some fashion given that it is three times the size of Acapulco’s police force. The security team will consist of the national military as well, as police from the state of Guerrero (which Acapulco is part of) and federal police.
Zurutuza added that the last 12 years of the tournament have gone off without incident and that the past holiday season was the best in recent years in terms of tourist occupation, which he said is the best indication of “public confidence in the city.”
Rafael Nadal is scheduled to play Acapulco for the first time since 2005, and his compatriots David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro will also compete.
The security force will be stationed outside the 7,500-seat stadium and cars will also be checked.
The Acapulco tournament – which will transition to hard courts next year in attempt to draw more international stars – receives about $393,000 US dollars annually from the government of Guerrero. It is an ATP 500 level event and a WTA International Series tournament.
“In terms of investment, the state government gives us an amount of money that is no secret and is public, and the city provides logistics, security, infrastructure, etc.,” said Zurutuza
Tournament marketing chief Manuel Vergara added that they don’t want to scare fans away by deploying such a large security force.
“We are trying to make it a friendly security, so the people who attend do not feel you’re in a bunker, in a grave situation,” he said.
©Daily Tennis News Wire