Fortress Odyssey for One Direction
Venue launches biggest security operation ahead of boyband's concerts
The Odyssey is in total lockdown as the biggest ever security operation at the arena gets under way ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of One Direction.
In unprecedented scenes normally reserved for the arrival of foreign dignitaries or royalty, security staff at the Belfast centre have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety of the five pop idols.
As they prepare to hit the stage, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson – said to be worth £15m each – are staying in a top-secret location. Not even Justin Timberlake's gig or MTV's European Music Awards saw a celebrity lockdown swing into operation with such military precision like this.
The chart-topping boyband kick off the first of their sold-out shows in Belfast tonight, with up to 32,000 young fans expected to attend the four gigs.
But devoted 'Directioners' hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes ahead of the shows face a mission impossible. A spokeswoman for the Odyssey Arena said: "As we're expecting a high influx of teenage girls we have taken steps to increase security.
"We have cancelled all food and beverage deliveries, we have doubled the number of security staff, both inside and outside the building.
"No one's getting in or out.
"When Westlife were playing here 10 years ago it was pretty crazy, but we've never witnessed anything like this.
"The day the tickets went on sale, the queue was five people deep and snaked around the building." The band arrived in Ireland yesterday, playing the O2 last night and again this evening.
Details of where the boys are staying are shrouded in secrecy, although sources claim they may base themselves in Dublin.
If they do decide to stay locally for their Belfast shows, the most likely candidate is the five-star Culloden Hotel at Cultra.
Among the boys' backstage requests are boxes of tea bags, milk and kettles in their dressing rooms as well as their favourite tipples – Jameson whiskey and beer.