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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal raise concerns over missing Chinese athlete, Chinese propaganda machinery gets active: Details

Chinese authorities and state media have been either denying any knowledge or refuting the claims of Peng's disappearance.

Tennis legend Roger Federer has raised concerns over missing Chinese player Peng Shuai. The Chinese Tennis player is a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 in doubles. She had allegedly disappeared after making serious allegations of sexual assault against former vice-premier Zhang Ghaoli two weeks ago.

While expressing concerns over Shuai’s disappearance, Federer told Sky Italia, “She’s one of our tennis champions, a former world No. 1, and clearly it’s concerning.” He further added, “I hope she’s safe. The tennis family sticks together, and I’ve always told my children as well that the tennis family is my second family. I’ve been on tour for 20-25 years, and I love the tour, I love the people that are there, (they) are special, the players as well, and she’s one of them.”

Federer further added that he was in touch with Andrea Gaudenzi, president, ATP Tour, to get information over the matter. “I just want her to be OK and that she’s safe and that we hear something hopefully soon,” he said.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal talked to the French newspaper L’Equipe about the issue and said, “I follow the news and read the articles about Peng Shuai. Even though I don’t have all the information, the most important thing in this case is whether she is okay. All of us in the tennis family hope to see her soon with us.”

China refutes claims of disappearance

Chinese authorities and state media have been either denying any knowledge or refuting the claims of Peng’s disappearance. Associated Press noted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Peng’s case. Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “[It] is not a diplomatic question, and I’m not aware of the situation.”

In a series of tweets, Chinese State Media published photographs and videos of the allegedly missing athlete to refute the claims of her disappearance. Mark Dreyer, China Sports Insider, published a photograph on his Twitter handle and said, “Peng Shuai is in the back row in the middle in this group picture at the National Tennis Center in Beijing from a junior tournament early on Sunday morning.” He also published a video in which Shuai was seen standing with other officials during the opening ceremony of the tournament.

Qingqing Chen, Chief reporter, Global Times, also published a video and claimed it was a recent video shot at the National Tennis Centre by his colleague Cui Meng. She said, “Video shot by my colleague Cui Meng at the National Tennis Center showing Peng Shuai signing signature on large-sized tennis balls at the opening ceremony of Junior Tennis Challenger Final, a way of inspiring more kids to play tennis as hobby and may also as a career.”

Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief, Global Times, published a video similar to Dreyer but from a different angle. He said, “Peng Shuai showed up at the opening ceremony of a teenager tennis match final in Beijing on Sunday morning. Global Times photo reporter Cui Meng captured her at the scene.”

Hu also shared two videos that he claimed to be of November 20 (local time) in which she was seen having dinner with her friends and coach. He wrote, “I acquired two video clips, which show Peng Shuai was having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant. The video content clearly shows they are shot on Saturday Beijing time.”

Before Shaui made the ‘public appearance’, photographs from her personal WeChat account were shared by Shen Shiwei, Reporter, BRI. He wrote, “Peng Shuai’s WeChat moments just posted three latest photos and said “Happy weekend”. Her friend shared the three photos and the screenshot of Peng’s WeChat moments.”

Concerns over Shuai’s silence

Reportedly, Shuai did not give any statement or speak during the tournament that raised eyebrows across the circuit. A Twitter user DeanAChandler questioned her silence and said, “eng Shuai surfaces in videos yet silent, probably under surveillance, and stage managed like a PR campaign for CCP.”

Another user Michael Delaney said, “Funny how in these state media “#PengShuai is fine” items, she’s not free to speak.”

Peng Shaui’s disappearance

Chinese Tennis player Peng Shuai went missing after she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex at his home. She wrote a long post in a social media post that was deleted almost immediately. However, the screenshots of a now-deleted social media post from November 2 went viral. Zhang Gaoli was the former Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China between 2013 and 2018 and a member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee.

China is supposed to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February. The Chinese state media has allegedly released an email where the tennis player Shuai has taken back her allegations and stated that she was fine. Head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Steve Simon questioned the authenticity of the email and described it as a “staged statement of some type,” and said, “Whether she was coerced into writing it, someone wrote it for her, we don’t know.”

Within 30 minutes of the original post, Chinese censors have removed all the mentions about the allegations from the internet. Peng Shuai’s Weibo account, which has more than half a million followers, disappeared as well.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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