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Cunning plot on Australian Open stopped at airport

February 3, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

This year’s Australian Open produced some of the most thrilling tennis for a long time, but two foreign tourists intercepted at Melbourne Airport carrying remote controls, soldering irons and a spy camera had other plans for the tournament.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers stopped the two Estonian nationals from entering Australia.

The two men, aged 37 and 38, arrived at Melbourne Airport on a flight from Bangkok on Tuesday, 17 January 2017. They were intercepted by ABF officers on arrival after it was revealed they planned to engage in corrupt betting activities at the Australian Open.

ABF officers became suspicious of the pair after discovering an unusual number of electronic devices and other unorthodox items during a baggage examination. Remote controls, soldering irons, glue, a spy camera and an electronic keypad were in their baggage.


Haul of electronic devices seized when two men were detained at Melbourne Airport


During questioning, the pair made admissions that the electronic devices were going to be used to bet courtside at the Australian Open.

So-called “courtsiding” involves a person sitting courtside at a sporting event and sending messages to another person, in some cases overseas, to give them up to several seconds advantage on how a match is progressing. This additional time is then used to place a bet before betting agencies can update their odds.

The practice is commonly used by transnational crime syndicates who target international sporting events.

Following the baggage examination, ABF officers determined the men to be non-genuine visitors and they were subsequently refused entry into Australia.

Regional Commander Victoria, James Watson, said the ABF would continue to work closely with law enforcement partners to prevent people from entering Australia who intended to engage in corrupt betting activity.

“Corrupt betting activity has the potential to undermine the integrity of Australian sport, and this detection highlights the vigilance of ABF officers in detecting and responding to a broad range of criminal activities and threats to our community,” Regional Commander Watson said.

“This was a sophisticated and well-prepared attempt by these individuals. This detection will be of interest to many agencies, including law enforcement, betting and sporting organisations around the globe.”

Edited by Peter Needham

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