Tennis Australia have defended the security team at Melbourne Park after a spectator was ordered to remove a t-shirt and banner that supported Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.
Peng’s whereabouts became a matter of international concern following a nearly three-week public absence after she accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in a social media message posted on Weibo in early November. China condemned the ‘politicisation of sports’ on Thursday after the World Tennis Association (WTA) suspended their tournaments in the country as a result of the situation.
The WTA reportedly remain unconvinced by the former Wimbledon doubles champion's public appearances since her seeming disappearance, and the topic has been blocked on China’s internet. Peng has since denied ever making the accusation that preceded her disappearance.
After the incident with the fan's banner at the Australian Open, a spokesperson for Tennis Australia said: “Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political. Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern.
“We continue to work with the WTA and the global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation.”
Players at the Australian Open have voiced their support for Peng. Victoria Azarenka is a member of the WTA Players’ Council, and she expressed her concern with the fact that the story has seemed to run out of steam.
“There hasn't been that much development in terms of contact with Peng Shuai even though from our side we will continue to make any and all efforts to make sure that she is safe, she feels comfortable,” said the 32-year-old.
“Hopefully we will get to hear from her personally at some point. I think that's the goal, the main goal right now.
“As a women's association, I am proud that we are supporting our players.”
After the WTA’s announcement to not play in China, the IOC have held a number of video calls with Peng. The damning stance by the WTA is a blow for China as Beijing is readying itself to host the Winter Olympics in February, and global rights groups are calling for a boycott against the country’s human rights record.
Source: Read Full Article