Chinese state media published an email allegedly from tennis player Peng Shuai retracting a complaint of sexual assault against a former senior government official.
In a sentence replying to emailWTA President and CEO Steve Simon said the email posted by Chinese state television station CGTN “only raises my concerns about his safety and whereabouts.”
Since Peng made the claim, she has not been seen publicly, raising concerns for her safety. according to Associated Press.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is attributed to him,” Simon said in the statement. “Peng Shuai showed incredible courage in describing an accusation of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese government official. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to contact her through numerous forms of communication, to no avail. “
The Associated Press reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday that he was unaware of Peng’s case.
In early November, Peng said in a social media post that Zhang Gaoli, a former Deputy Prime Minister and a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party, forced her to have sex. according to Associated Press. According to the publication, Zhang assaulted her at home three years ago while his wife was guarding the door. Peng wrote in the post that they also had sex seven years ago and later developed feelings for him, the AP reported.
The post, which was published on November 2 on Chinese social media platform Weibo, was removed minutes after it was posted.
Zhang has been retired since 2018 and has been out of the public eye since then, as reported to be common among Chinese officials after retirement.
“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source,” Simon said in the statement. “Their complaint of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship. The voices of women must be heard and respected, not censored or imposed.”
November 14 Simon said in a statement that the WTA commended Peng for his courage and strength, and said that the WTA expects the allegations “to be handled properly, which means that the allegations must be fully, fairly, transparently and uncensored investigated.”
As a doubles player, Peng has won at Wimbledon (2013) and the French Open (2014), along with 23 more titles at the circuit level. She was a semifinalist as a singles player at the 2014 US Open.
According to The New York TimesPeng’s indictment is the latest in the #MeToo movement taking place in China that has received censorship and legal responses.
Peng’s disappearance has prompted many in the tennis community to express concern for Peng’s safety.
The number of tennis players who share the # Where isPengShuai hashtag is growing rapidly nowadays, even from the ATP side.
It is heartening to see so many in tennis willing to put concern for Peng Shuai’s welfare before cynical business interests. A model for other sports re: China. pic.twitter.com/Z3zVACBZyC
– Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 18, 2021
Naomi Osaka tweeted the message, “#WhereIsPengShuai”, adding a note that she hopes Peng and her family “are safe and well. I am in shock at the current situation and I am sending love and lighting their way. “.
Novak Djokovic said he was “shocked” to learn of her disappearance. according to SkySports.
“It’s not much more to say than hope that they find her, that she’s okay,” Djokovic said. “It’s terrible. I can imagine how her family feels when she is missing.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.