Fans of Yao Ming hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol entering or leaving the Olympic basketball venue should get ready to be disappointed, as a senior security official said yesterday that the giant center will be kept well away from the crowds when he is not on court.
Zhou Bing, deputy director of the Wukesong Indoor Stadium, which will host the basketball competitions, said four separate entrances will be used for spectators, press, athletes and officials.
A police cordon will be set up several hundred meters from the athletes' entrance to stop fans getting too close, Zhou told reporters yesterday, during a tour of the stadium.
"If fans want to see Yao Ming or any of the other NBA superstars, they will have to wait until they are on court," he said.
Cao Dongxiang, a senior officer with Beijing's public security bureau, who is in charge of Olympic venue security, said that of the 28 sports being contested at this summer's Games, just basketball and football have been given the highest security risk rating.
These are known for attracting large numbers of passionate fans and will feature lots of big-name players, he said.
During the Games, a total of 1,500 paramilitary and regular police, professional security guards and Olympic volunteers will patrol a 310,000-sq-m security zone, encompassing the basketball stadium and three nearby baseball fields, Zhou said.
As well as the people on the ground, about 600 surveillance cameras will be used in the zone, and an infrared security system has been installed along the perimeter fence to detect intruders, he said.
While making every effort to keep people safe, Cao said the police are also trying hard to limit the impact of the security measures on people's enjoyment of the events.
"We want people to have fun," he said.
Zhou said help centers will be set up inside and outside the basketball venue to handle lost-and-found items and other general issues.