Canberra's Asian Cup venues in lockdown as kick-off looms for soccer tournament
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Canberra's Asian Cup venues in lockdown as kick-off looms for soccer tournament

Security has been ramped up at Canberra's three Asian Cup venues in preparation for the largest soccer tournament in the world this year.

With just five days to go before South Korea takes on Oman in the first of seven games to be played at Canberra Stadium, the venue is under lock and key.

Security is being boosted at Canberra Stadium ahead of the Asian Cup.

Security is being boosted at Canberra Stadium ahead of the Asian Cup.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Canberra Stadium has been in lockdown mode since December 30 and security guards are stationed at the venue on a 24-hour basis.

McKellar Park and Deakin Stadium, which will be used as training venues, were closed from 6am on Sunday. A security guard was at each ground.

All tournament venues in the five host cities across Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle and Canberra – were handed over to the Asian Cup local organising committee 10 days before the start of the event.

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This is to ensure they are clear of all advertising and to comply with security measures to protect teams and spectators.

Security staff will accompany teams at their hotels and whenever they travel to and from their training and match venues.

The Asian Football Confederation had asked Australia to increase security for the Asian Cup afterlast month's deadly hostage siege in Sydney.

A spokesman for the Asian Cup local organising committee said the organisation had worked closely with Australian governments and security authorities.

"Our aim is to deliver a safe, secure and friendly tournament," the spokesman said.

"Australia has hosted a number of high-profile international events and has a strong reputation for ensuring they are delivered safely and successfully.

"The security model will enable players and fans to enjoy the events while ensuring the safety and security of fans, players and the Australian community.

"Contingency arrangements are in place to ensure a responsive and flexible security overlay."

Spectators will have their bags screened on entry to Canberra Stadium and the usual security measures will be in place.

AFC general secretary Alex Soosay contacted the committee in December to ask for increased protection.

"Thousands of media and fans will be travelling to Australia for the competition, apart from 16 teams, and their security is our utmost priority," Soosay said.

"We have asked [the] LOC to provide extra security in team and AFC hotels as well as police escorts for all official activities including training and matches, in addition to [an] increase in security across all venues."

Qatar, Oman and Kuwait have been based in Canberra in the lead-up to the tournament.

The three countries have been training at the AIS. Qatar are playing ASB Premiership leaders Team Wellington at the AIS behind closed doors on Monday at 6pm.

South Korea will hold a closed training session at Deakin Stadium on Tuesday night, while Oman will train at McKellar Park.

Both venues have had black cloth installed around the sides of the ground to prevent people from watching.

The ACT government paid $3.5 million for Canberra to host seven games of the Asian Cup including a quarter-final on January 23.

The Asian Cup is the largest soccer tournament in the world this year and will have an estimated television viewing audience of 1 billion people.

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.