COLOMBO: Sri Lanka launched an unprecedented security operation for cricket's World Twenty20 tournament starting Tuesday, with the players also under intense surveillance over match-fixing fears.
Bodyguards from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) and commandos of the elite Special Task Force have been deployed to guard players in a drill usually reserved for visiting heads of state, officials said.
Camillus Abeygunawardena, the top security officer for the tournament said it was the biggest security operation ever in Sri Lanka for a sporting event in the country emerging from nearly four decades of ethnic bloodshed. "We had this level of security at last year's (cricket) World Cup, but this time we have more teams and the scale of the operation is a lot bigger," Abeygunawardena told AFP.
The authorities have also unveiled an undercover operation to ensure there was no corruption by players themselves after international cricket was rocked by match-fixing revelations last year. "Both local and international detectives have checked into hotels where the players are staying," a top security source who declined to be named said. "We are keeping a close watch on the players and their visitors."
Armed security was already deployed at team hotels where floors occupied by players have been declared out of bounds for other hotel guests.
Tournament organisers took out newspaper advertisements Monday to warn fans not to bring into match venues any firearms, fireworks, alcohol or things that could be used as projectiles. Laser pointers, mirrors, air horns, bottles, tumblers and soda cans were also banned. Among the other prohibited items were "metal rods, bamboo clubs and other types of poles."