SYDNEY, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Australian authorities have begun to clear homeless people out of Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open in late January.
Victoria Police and authorities from the Melbourne council on Wednesday and Tuesday removed a homeless camp set up underneath Sandridge Bridge which links the city's CBD to Southbank, a popular tourist destination.
The clear-out comes just a week before the Australian Open, one of the city's biggest tourism drawcards and the first of four tennis Grand Slams in the calendar year, begins with the city ambitious to put on as good a show as possible for the thousands of tourists expected in town.
Though it is not illegal for homeless people to sleep on the streets of Melbourne, it is illegal to set up a camp in a public place.
Despite the clean-up corresponding with the beginning of the Australian Open, a spokeswoman for the City of Melbourne said it was a routine clean-up operation.
"We will continue to work with homelessness agencies to improve public amenity and safety in this area and to try and find suitable alternative living arrangements," the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Brendan Nottle, the leader of charity group the Salvation Army in Melbourne, said the camps popped up irregularly in Melbourne.
"Sometimes it's only one or two people, but the difficulty begins when those camps start to grow," Nottle told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.
"There have been camps around the city that have anywhere up to 10 to 15 people staying at them and that becomes a problem, particularly for people trying to access surrounding businesses and also trying to move down the footpath."
Victoria Police said it would work with stakeholders, including the Salvation Army, to try and find housing for those who were evicted from the camp.