Media in Belgium are reporting today that due to the elevated terrorist threat levels there will be no bags or backpacks allowed in the security zones at the Tour of Flanders. That means the big crowd areas at the start and finish and also the fanzones on the big climbs, the Oude Kwaremont, Koppenberg and Paterberg.
Sporza reports that no backpacks will be allowed into these zones but it is hard to see how this will be enforced especially on the climbs which are big areas, not fenced off or anything. Perhaps the idea is only that it will cover the fenced off VIP areas where you need to pass through controls to get in but that is certainly not the impression the news reports make. Telesport mention agents covering at least eight of the so called securityzones where backpacks will be prohibited.
To anyone who has followed the Ronde from the roadside the problems of this are obvious. The race is a people fest, you spend the day out, bring a picnic, enjoy the day. At the very least most people need to bring some basic stuff, extra clothes or a blanket and something to drink unless you are safely tucked away in one of the VIP tents and enjoy expensive catering and whatnot. This could make that problematic unless you avoid all the fun places, I mean you can stand by the road on some random place with your picnic-basket and stuff but for most people who travel to the race they want to be where the action is. It will be interesting to see when it gets defined which areas this will affect and the extent of the ban. Does it only apply to fenced off areas for instance? That will make a big difference how problematic this will be in reality.
So naturally there are very real security concerns at big crowd events these days, this is the reality we live in now. But at some point you have to ask yourself what you really think you can accomplish with measures like these. Surely any terrorist with an IQ number higher than Greg Van Avermaet's current UCI ranking will need no more than seven seconds to figure out a way around measures like these if he really wants to target the race and the big crowds around it. So what are you really accomplishing? Making a point that you are "strong on terrorism"? Giving folks an impression of safety? Or are you just creating an increased level of anxiety and making normal day life for people a hassle for no rational or meaningful reason?