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Kloten fan mail checked for anthrax

All mail addressed to players is being checked by security officers. swissinfo.ch

Organisers of this week's Swisscom Challenge tennis tournament in Kloten have revealed that they are intercepting all fan mail at the event in the wake of recent anthrax scares in the United States.

This content was published on October 17, 2001 - 18:06

Communications director André Glauser said that all mail addressed to players was being inspected by security staff with suspicious items being handled with latex gloves or simply destroyed.

"We are working with the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) and collecting all letters addressed to players and anything that seems strange is shredded," Glauser said.

Several anthrax scares have broken our around the world following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

As far as general security measures at the tournament are concerned, security chief Markus Biedermann says little has changed from previous years.

Existing measures sufficient

"We analysed our security before the tournament and decided that the existing measures were sufficient," Biedermann told swissinfo. "The only thing that we really re-examined was the security surrounding the prominent American players we have here, with Jennifer Capriati being the world number one and Davenport being number three.

"The big thing that could happen to change our whole approach would be if we felt that not only buildings in the United States were under attack, but also politicians or sporting celebrities," Biedermann added.

Greater caution

Tournament assistant Samira Ilg is one of the people checking the mail that arrives at the tournament in Kloten. She told swissinfo that the sense of caution was definitely greater this year, but was not being taken to extremes.

"If there are letters without the sender's name on then we are more cautious," Ilg admitted. "We put them to one side and treat them more carefully - perhaps put on gloves to open them. I'm not really worried about anything happening here but after what happened on September 11 and then the shootings at the cantonal parliament in Zug people are certainly more safety-conscious."

Swiss for a week

One American player appears to have taken safety concerns further than most, deciding to list herself as Swiss for the duration of the tournament. The WTA have allowed Kimberly Po-Messerli to take the unusual step following her marriage to a man of joint Swiss-South African nationality in the summer.

Po-Messerli has not formally taken up Swiss nationality, nor has she said if she wishes to be listed as a Swiss player at subsequent tournaments.

"I just feel a lot safer doing this after everything that happened on September 11," the 30-year-old player said on Tuesday.

by Mark Ledsom, Kloten

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