Tennis, Peng Shuai, Australian Open, banned protesters, missing Chinese player

Tennis

Tennis Australia denied two spectators entry to Melbourne Park yesterday for sporting a banner and t-shirts asking ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’.

Footage made its way onto social media of security guards and then police confiscating the items from two people, under the Tennis Australia rule against allowing political statements to be made at the Australian Open.

A police officer can be heard explaining to the demonstrators that it’s strictly only a specific Tennis Australia directive that caused them to confiscate the items. One person is heard arguing that it wasn’t a political statement they were making, only expressing concern for Peng and her wellbeing.

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“Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political,” a Tennis Australia spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing.”

The Peng mystery has been a constant underlying topic throughout the tournament, with several players expressing their views on the situation when asked by journalists.

The veteran doubles champion has essentially been missing for a number of months, since taking to Chinese social media to accuse a former government minister of sexual assault.

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There’s been messages from China claiming Peng is safe and well, but many fellow tour professionals are not convinced the whole truth is being told.

In the past week the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Victoria Azarenka, and Naomi Osaka have all spoken publicly about the saga.

“Obviously if that’s still something that’s ongoing it needs to be found out and… we need more awareness about it. We can’t forget about her,” Kyrgios told reporters.

“We have to use our platforms as athletes. I think we’re obligated to do that, we’re obligated to speak up and get to the root of what’s happening and why it’s happening.”

The Women’s Tennis Association has blacklisted China from hosting any tournaments this year, demanding to hear directly from Peng before lifting the boycott.

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