What you need to know about tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations – NBC Boston
A Chinese tennis star has accused a former senior government official of sexual assault, sparking a #MeToo crisis in sports and politics. Athlete Peng Shuai has largely disappeared from public view, his tennis colleagues are worried, and the International Olympic Committee is being criticized for his response. Here’s a look at the allegations and what followed.
Who is Peng Shuai?
Peng Shuai is a Chinese doubles Grand Slam champion who was once ranked number 1 in doubles and number 14 in singles, according to The New York Times. She has won 25 touring titles, including Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros in 2014, in doubles and reached the semi-finals at the US Open in 2014 in singles, ESPN reported. Her last appearance was at the Qatar Total Open in 2020. She is 35 years old and has practically disappeared from public view since November 2 when she accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, 75, of sexual assault in a social media post.
What did Peng claim?
Peng Shuai made the sexual assault allegation against Zhang on November 2 on his verified account on Chinese social media platform Weibo. The post was deleted within 20 minutes, but the screenshots went viral. The New York Times reported that she wrote there that Zhang sexually assaulted her after her retirement in 2018, after inviting her to play tennis with him and his wife. Peng, who said she had an intermittent relationship with Zhang, also wrote that she could not corroborate his claim.
Who is Zhang Gaoli?
Zhang was once one of China’s most powerful officials under President Xi Jinping. The New York Times reported that Chinese media described him as a “stern, low-key and taciturn” technocrat whose interests included tennis, chess and books. He had so far avoided scandals. He retired in 2018 and has not commented on the allegation.
How is the International Olympic Committee reacting?
Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics, which are due to start on February 4, and the International Olympic Committee has acted cautiously. Committee chairman Thomas Bach said in late November that he and two other officials spoke with Peng on a video call. He said she said she was doing well, lived at her home in Beijing, and asked for confidentiality. The appeal failed to appease human rights activists. Amnesty International has warned the IOC not to participate in any “laundering of possible human rights violations”, Reuters reported.
On Dec. 2, the committee said in a statement it was concerned for the three-time Olympian’s well-being, had a second video call with her on Dec. 1 and was planning a meeting with her in January.
“We use ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organizations, is indicated as the most promising way to proceed effectively in these humanitarian issues,” he said. he declared in his declaration.
Tennis stars rally for Peng
Tennis stars around the world who worried about his safety rallied around Peng. They promoted the hashtag # WhereIsPengShuai through social media. Its supporters include some of the biggest names in tennis, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic.
Some of the biggest names in tennis are reacting to the public absence of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and others speak out against the situation. Their posts come after Peng posted a now deleted post on Weibo on November 2, accusing a Chinese government official of sexually assaulting her, according to NBC News.
“I am devastated and shocked to hear the news from my peer, Peng Shuai”, Williams tweeted. “I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This needs to be investigated and we must not remain silent. Sending love to her and her family during this amazing time. hard.”
Since then, China’s Foreign Ministry said Peng attended public events, and she was shown in a 25-second video of the opening ceremony for the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Final in Beijing on November 21.
Tennis association suspends the game in China
The Women’s tennis association suspended all tournaments in China, the mainland and Hong Kong, effective December 1. Association president Steve Simon accused Chinese leaders of failing to credibly address the issues surrounding Shuai’s allegation. “Although we now know Peng’s whereabouts, I seriously doubt that she is free, safe and free from censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Simon said in a statement.
Several tennis tournaments are scheduled in China for next year, including the WTA Finals, but Simon said he could not ask players to participate in them then, he said, Peng Shuai is apparently under pressure to contradict his claims.
“Considering the current state of affairs, I am also very concerned about the risks all of our players and staff could face if we host events in China in 2022,” he said.
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