Bomb scare halts Shahar Peer

The Auckland Classic women’s WTA event was halted when police were forced to evacuate the stadium after a bomb scare amid anti-Israel demonstations.

Play on Tuesday was halted after the alarm as a small group picketed the event.

Protesters denied any link to the scare and police said they had found the owner of an unattended bag that sparked the evacuation, and that normal procedure had been followed.

Play recommenced 20 minutes later after the all-clear was given. The scare delayed the appearance of Israel's Shahar Peer, who went on to beat Slovenian Polona Hercog.

John Minto, a spokesman for the eight protesters, said the Global Peace and Justice Auckland group had sent a letter to Peer asking her to pull out of the tournament because of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

The group launched another protest outside the ASB Tennis Centre in 2009 but left during Peer’s first game. The protestors plan to stay as long as Peer remains in the tournament.

“We will definitely be here if she progresses,” Minto said.

    Last updated: 5:09pm, January 7 2010