HANOI: David Beckham's minders have banned foreign media from his promotional events in Asia to shield the England captain from constant questions about his expectant transfer from Manchester United.
Beckham, among the highest-profile sportsmen in the world, will arrive in Tokyo today to film commercials and then embark on a flying trip to Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand to do some promotional work for Castrol.
The transfer speculation has dominated the British media since the English Premier League season ended and didn't abate while Beckham was touring the US in recent weeks.
The public relations firm handling Beckham's appearance in Ho Chi Minh City on June 25 said that Beckham would be off limits to the foreign press, although local Vietnamese journalists might have some access.
As of now, international journalists will not have access to David Beckham, but they can witness the event from the stands,'' said Nguyen Thanh Son, managing director of T&A Communications, said.
No cameras of any kind would be allowed into the stadium, said Son, adding that the same restrictions would apply in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
A spokesman for the firm that is co-ordinating publicity for the three-nation South-East Asian tour said Beckham's agent, SFX, had imposed the blanket ban on non-local journalists attending the scheduled promotional events.
In Vietnam, a communist country of 80 million where football is the No. 1 sport and where few international celebrities make stops, Beckham's visit was being promoted by huge signs in Ho Chi Minh City nearly a month ago.
Beckham was expected to be accompanied by his wife Victoria, who was Posh Spice'' from the British pop group The Spice Girls.
The Beckhams are the biggest celebrities in England and the 28-year-old footballer has a legion of supporters throughout Asia, where young fans copy his various hairstyles and fashion.
His memorabilia is always in hot demand at Manchester United-dedicated shops in the region.
The movie Bend it like Beckham'' about a British girl of South Asian descent who used Beckham as inspiration to launch her football career despite the objections of her family became an international hit last year.
Beckham has been the centre of intense daily transfer speculation for weeks.
Manchester United have said they would sell him, accepting an offer from Barcelona made by Joan Laporta if the Catalan is elected president of the club and Beckham agreed to go. Laporta won the vote on Sunday.
However, Beckman's agent has indicated he will not go. Spanish rival Real Madrid are now emerging as the favourites to sign the midfielder. Italian clubs Inter Milan and AC Milan have also shown interest. AP