Women’s Tennis Challenges China’s Narrative Over Missing Player


The high official overseeing ladies’s tennis on Wednesday straight challenged the narrative introduced by Chinese state media {that a} extremely ranked skilled participant had walked again allegations of sexual assault towards a high Communist Party official, saying he feared for her well-being.

China Global Television Network, an English-language broadcaster managed by the Chinese authorities, on Wednesday distributed an email that it stated had been written by Peng Shuai, the extremely ranked participant. Ms. Peng has not been seen in public since Nov. 2, when she posted the accusation on social media towards Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier.

According to C.G.T.N., Ms. Peng stated in her electronic mail that “I am not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.” The electronic mail additionally stated the allegation of sexual assault “is not true.”

Steve Simon, the chief govt of the WTA Tour, solid doubt on the veracity of the e-mail.

“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” he stated in an announcement. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

Mr. Simon stated he had repeatedly tried to succeed in Ms. Peng, with out success.

“Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source,” the assertion added. “Her allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship.”

Ms. Peng’s Nov. 2 submit briefly despatched shock waves by means of Chinese society. Other high-profile males have been accused of sexual misconduct amid the nation’s budding #MeToo motion. But her accusation touched the very best ranges of its political management. Mr. Zhang had been a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, its highest ruling physique, between 2012 and 2017.

Her submit and any discussions of it have been instantly taken down from China’s closely censored web. Ms. Peng’s verified account on the social media platform Weibo was additionally taken down, although on Thursday it appeared to have been restored, with all posts after early 2020 deleted.

Neither Mr. Zhang nor the Chinese authorities have publicly commented on Ms. Peng’s allegations, which couldn’t be independently verified. The assertion from C.G.T.N. didn’t seem to have been revealed on China Central Television, its Chinese-language state-run dad or mum, or on different official Chinese-language media.

Some of the tennis world’s largest stars have spoken out in current days in assist of Ms. Peng and referred to as for an investigation into Ms. Peng’s allegations.

Naomi Osaka of Japan wrote on Twitter that “censorship is never ok at any cost.” Chris Evert, the American former world champion, called the accusations “very disturbing.” The British tennis participant Liam Broady wrote of Ms. Peng’s disappearance, “I can’t believe this is even happening in the 21st century.”

Novak Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 males’s participant, stated the restricted particulars surrounding Ms. Peng’s whereabouts have been “shocking.”

The WTA’s feedback and a spotlight on Ms. Peng might harm the tour’s profitable enterprise relationship with China, however that didn’t seem to cease the tour from persevering with to talk out.

Mr. Simon first referred to as on the Chinese authorities to research Ms. Peng’s allegations on Sunday and advised that the tour may cease doing enterprise in China if the WTA didn’t “see appropriate results.”

The governing physique of males’s tennis, the ATP Tour, later weighed in to assist calls to research Ms. Peng’s allegations.

“We have been deeply concerned by the uncertainty surrounding the immediate safety and whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai,” Andrea Gaudenzi, the chairman of the ATP, stated in an announcement.

The ATP, he wrote, stood “in full support of the WTA’s call for a full, fair and transparent investigation.”

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.