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Tennis

Updated on: Monday, November 15, 2021, 05:33 PM IST

Whereabouts of Chinese Tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused ex vice-premier, unknown

AFP
Chinese Tennis player Peng Shuai in action. | Photo: AP

Chinese Tennis player Peng Shuai in action. | Photo: AP

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China kept silent Monday over growing concern for tennis star Peng Shuai, who has not been heard from since accusing a powerful politician of sexual assault -- the first time the #MeToo movement has struck at the top echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) called Sunday for Peng's claims to be "investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship", and current and former players have taken to social media to express fear for the safety of the former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion.

Asked to respond to the mounting questions, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "I have not heard of the issue you raised."

He added that "this is not a diplomatic question" and made no further comment on the fate of the former world number one doubles player.

Details of Peng's reported accusations, made earlier this month that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her, remain scrubbed from China's Internet. Searches for their names on key portals come back empty.

Searches for her account on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform also returned no results, although the account was still accessible via a direct web link.

China's national tennis association did not respond to AFP requests for comment.

In its statement, the WTA's chairman Steve Simon said the events concerning Peng were "of deep concern" and called for her claims to be "treated with the utmost seriousness".

"Our absolute and unwavering priority is the health and safety of our players. We are speaking out so justice can be done," the statement said.

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Published on: Monday, November 15, 2021, 05:34 PM IST
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