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Huge police presence for Israel tennis match

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13:31 CET+01:00
Swedish police are to mobilize up to 1,000 officers in Malmö next weekend in a bid to guarantee the safety of players and functionaries during a Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel.

Local politicians cited security concerns when ruling last week that the match at the 4,000 capacity Baltiska Hallen arena should be played behind closed doors. The match will be played from March 6th to 8th.

The Malmö-based 'Stop the match' network is expecting 8,000 to 12,000 people to gather for a major demonstration on March 7th as part of a protest against Israel's recent war in Gaza.

But police are primarily concerned about the participation of groups from the extreme left wing autonomist movement.

"They have stated that they want to stop the Davis Cup match at any cost," said Malmö police chief Håkan Jarborg Eriksson.

Local police have requested back-up from Stockholm and five other counties in a bid to guard the area near the arena and surrounding neighbourhoods. Police will also provide protection for Swedish and Israeli players and functionaries both at their hotels and while travelling to and from the arena.

Police in Malmö are expecting a foretaste of possible disturbances this Saturday, when autonomist groups plan to March between the city's two police stations in protest against recent revelations highlighting instances of xenophobia and racism in the regional Skåne police force.

"That could have an effect on events during Davis Cup week," said Jarborg Eriksson.

The Israeli team is set to arrive in Malmö and will be accompanied by two Israeli bodyguards. Swedish police authorities have turned down a request from Israel for the bodyguards be allowed to carry handguns.

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