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Nicki Minaj arrested at Netherlands airport hours before Co-op Live show in Manchester

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Nicki Minaj’s concert tonight at the Co-op Live in Manchester, attended by thousands of fans, has been postponed at the last minute after she was arrested in the Netherlands just a few hours earlier.

The American rapper, 41, was held at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of soft drugs.

She was later released from custody just before 9pm on Saturday (UK time) but she will have to pay an undisclosed fine for “illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country”, Dutch police told Sky News.

Fans had been let into the Manchester venue in the evening despite the star’s detention.

However, the gig will be moved to a later date with a statement from promoters Live Nation saying: “Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced ASAP.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

In a series of social media posts on X and Instagram, Minaj earlier claimed police said they found drugs in her luggage after items were checked by customs.

She wrote on X that “they said they found weed”. She also claimed “they took my luggage without consent” and “they’re trying to keep me from MANCHESTER”.

The messages also included one where she wrote: “This is Amsterdam btw, where weed is legal.”

The star, whose hit songs include Starships, Super Bass and Anaconda, also filmed what appeared to be an airport official asking her to have her luggage checked.

Minaj later wrote: “It’s a 45 minute to an hour flight. So they’re probably trying to stall for about 4 hours.”

And she added: “Now they said I have to go 5 mins away to make a statement about my security to the police precinct.”

She has not posted on X since.

Asked about Minaj, Robert van Kapel, a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee military police, earlier told Sky News’ US partner network NBC News: “We can confirm that we have arrested a 41-year-old American woman at Schiphol Airport because of possession of soft drugs.”

Image:
The Co-op Live in Manchester. Pic: PA

Connor Wynne, who is a fan of the singer, was in the front row in Manchester and had been hopeful he would see her perform tonight.

He told Sky News: “So the organisers… haven’t really told us anything at the moment, like what’s going on with it. But we’re waiting to find out if she’s going to come. We’re hopeful because we’ve all been let into the arena and it’s filling up nicely as well. And we’ve got a good space. So let’s pray and hope that she does arrive.”

Nicki Minaj fan, Connor Wynne
Image:
Connor Wynne, a Nicki Minaj fan, is at the arena tonight

As part of her Pink Friday 2 World Tour, Minaj is due to perform in Birmingham on Sunday, followed by a concert at London’s O2 arena next Tuesday.

Then on Wednesday, she is due to play in Glasgow followed by a gig on Thursday, again at the Co-op Live in Manchester.

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The beleaguered £365m arena – the UK’s largest indoor entertainment venue – opened earlier this month after it was plagued by a series of problems.

There had been weeks of setbacks, cancellations and postponements, before live music finally got under way there on 14 May when Manchester rock band Elbow took to the stage.

The problems included part of the building’s ventilation and air conditioning system falling to the ground from the ceiling during a soundcheck in early May.

The 23,500-capacity venue was initially due to fully open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but these dates were pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Ricky Astley.

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but it was called off just over an hour before his performance and after doors had opened to fans – because the ventilation system became detached.

The ventilation issue meant scheduled performances by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and British band Keane were postponed, while a series of shows by Take That were moved to the AO Arena in Manchester.

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