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Tennis Australia stands firm to its decision to ban clothes and banners supporting missing Chinese Tennis star Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai has not been seen in public since making charges of forced sex against Zhang Gaoli on social media site Weibo

Tennis Australia defended its decision of asking Australian Open spectators to take off T-shirts with a message in support of Chinese Tennis star Peng Shuai. During the ongoing Australian Open, police and security authorities had forced two spectators to remove a T-shirt with the words “Where is Peng Shuai?” that they were wearing. A poster bearing the same statement was also seized.

In a video that had gone viral on social media, a pro-democracy campaigner from Hong Kong Max Mok and a fellow spectator were asked to remove their T-Shirts with pro-Peng Shuai graffiti. The T-shirts had a photo of Peng on the front below the word “Wanted”, while the back of the T-shirt had “Where is Peng Shuai?” printed on it. The cops had explained to them that the material violated Tennis Australia’s ban on political statements at the tournament. “I’m not saying you can’t have those views, but Tennis Australia sets the rules here,” a police officer had told them.

At the end of the video, a police officer adds, “The Australian Open does have a rule that there can’t be any political slogans.”

Tennis Australia expressed concern about Peng’s safety but stated that supporters at the Australian Open were not authorized to make political comments with their clothes. “Under our ticket conditions of entry, we do not allow commercial or political clothing, banners, or placards,” stated a Tennis Australia representative.

Peng Shuai and her disappearance

According to reports, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai went missing after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into sex at his house. 35-year-old Peng is a doubles champion at Wimbledon and the French Open. She wrote a lengthy message on the Chinese social media site Weibo in November 2021. According to screenshots of a now-deleted social media post dated November 2, she has not been seen in public since making the charges against Zhang Gaoli. After removing Peng Shuai’s initial post within 30 minutes, Chinese censors erased any references to the claims from the internet. Peng Shuai’s Weibo account, which has over 500,000 followers, had also vanished.

Her disappearance sparked widespread anxiety for her safety. The United Nations, the White House, athletes, and campaigners have all spoken out about the disappearance.

The revelation of Peng Shuai’s disappearance came only months before China is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February. However, the Chinese official media has supposedly revealed an email in which Shuai, a tennis star, retracted her claims and stated that she is alright.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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