Some of the most famous tennis players in the world are upset by the disappearance of their colleague Peng Shuai and are challenging the Chinese Communist Party to find answers.
So far, this has been a standoff with little noticeable impact because tennis players like Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic-as well as tennis governing bodies, human rights organizations, retired players, and some athlete lobby groups-have tried to bring them The image becomes power.
Two weeks ago, Peng disappeared after making sexual assault charges against former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, a plenipotentiary member of the Politburo Standing Committee and a lieutenant of General Secretary Xi Jinping.
Athletes may feel pressure points.
China is only 2 1/2 months away from hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is facing a diplomatic boycott, alleging crimes against humanity involving at least 1 million Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. NBA player Enes Kanter has always been the most outspoken person in the Uyghur defense, calling Xi Jinping a “savage dictator.”
Peng’s case is unique. She is a star athlete with a platform and credibility that few other women in China have. The effort to silence Peng reflects the Communist Party’s determination to suppress criticism of its leader and prevent any organized public response.
Athletes are particularly politically sensitive because they are well known and respected. The ruling party promotes their victories, especially those of three-time Olympians like Peng, as evidence that it has made China strong again.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly denied knowledge of the case. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told the media on Friday that this issue is “not a diplomatic issue, and I don’t know or understand the situation.”
Peng wrote a lengthy post on social media on November 2. She said that she was forced to have sex with Zhang three years ago. The post was quickly deleted from Peng’s verified account on Weibo, China’s leading social media platform. But screenshots of the explosive allegations were shared on the Internet.
Since then, athletes have been weighing.
“Censorship must be conducted anyway,” Osaka wrote on social media, adding the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
Williams added: “This must be investigated and we cannot remain silent.”
“This is terrible. I mean, one person is missing,” Djokovic said at the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. “The entire community, the tennis industry, needs to support her and her family to make sure she is safe and sound, because it would be a bit strange if you hold a game on Chinese soil and don’t solve this situation.”
The explicit support of the Women’s Tennis Association and its chairman and chief executive Steve Simon encouraged the players, who had threatened to withdraw WTA events from China. This means there will be nearly one dozen next year, including the WTA finals.
Simon said in an interview with CNN: “Too many times in the world today, we have encountered such problems. We let business, politics, and money decide what is right and what is wrong.”
“And we are absolutely willing to withdraw from our business and deal with all the complications that come with it, because…this is bigger than the business.”
The Professional Tennis Players Association called on players to unite in defense of the fearless competitor Peng.
The association stated: “Unless we provide the world with conclusive evidence of Peng Shuai’s happiness, we must unite and be willing to take action.”
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Twitter: “We are deeply concerned about reports of the missing tennis player Peng Shuai, and we also call on China to provide independent and verifiable evidence of her whereabouts. Women all over the world should Treat and investigate reports of sexual assault seriously.”
Liz Srossel, spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva, said on Friday that it called for “a fully transparent investigation of her allegations of sexual assault.”
The advocacy organization Global Athlete has asked the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee to suspend the work of the Chinese Olympic Committee until Peng’s safety is guaranteed.
“The International Olympic Committee must use its immense influence to ensure that proof of Peng’s whereabouts is provided to the international community, immediately allow Peng to leave China safely, and conduct a comprehensive and transparent investigation into her allegations of sexual assault,” said Luo, head of global athletes. Bob Kohler said in a statement.
Although Peng is a former Olympian, the International Olympic Committee has remained silent. As a sports company, 91% of its revenue comes from the sale of broadcasting rights and sponsorship. But it is more willing to model itself as a non-governmental organization whose duty is to defend noble ideas, such as “promoting a peaceful society focused on maintaining human dignity”, which appears in its Olympic charter.
Emma Terho, the newly elected head of an IOC’s Athletes’ Commission that is supposed to represent the interests of Olympic athletes, has not commented. Big, demanding a greater share of the IOC’s billion-dollar cake.
The IOC said in a statement: “Experience shows that quiet diplomacy is the best opportunity to find solutions to problems of this nature.” “This explains why the IOC will not make further announcements at this stage. Comment.”
It also stated that it has obtained Peng’s “safety” guarantee.
“It is surprising that the International Olympic Committee will accept the government’s guarantee, especially the cost of making serious allegations as a female Olympian,” Human Rights Watch said.
The World Olympic Athletes Association declined to issue a statement. It claims to represent 100,000 living Olympians. It was founded by Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., who was in charge of the preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games that the International Olympic Committee opened on February 4. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, is the Honorary President.
“For the upcoming Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has greater influence than any other organization,” Kohler of global athletes wrote to the Associated Press. “They need to use it now. The athletes participating in these games are watching how the IOC will protect the athletes.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.