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A fuss about “Free Peng Shuai” shirts

An Australian Senate candidate wants to go to the Australian Open facility with a “Free Peng Shuai” shirt. He is denied access. The criticism of the organizer Tennis Australia is so great that the association now allows the expressions of solidarity. .

Reappeared, but how is Peng Shuai’s well-being?

Fred Lee/Getty

The question «Where is Peng Shuai?» has been appearing repeatedly on social networks since last November. Peng had accused a senior Chinese party official of sexual abuse – and disappeared. Meanwhile, the Chinese tennis player has reappeared; however, there are question marks over their well-being.

Peng later withdrew the allegations. The public does not know how voluntarily this happened. Some spectators therefore wanted to draw attention to their fate at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Drew Pavlou, a candidate for the Australian Senate, wore a T-shirt that read “Free Peng Shuai” last Friday and tried to get into the Melbourne facility. He and an acquaintance also had a banner with them that said “Where is Peng Shuai?” was standing. The security personnel denied them entry, asked them to hand over the banner and take off their T-shirts; only then can they watch.

Navratilova finds the procedure “pathetic”

Drew Pavlou shared a video of the incident on Twitter. With that he brought Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open, into an explanation. A spokesman for Tennis Australia said over the weekend: “Our entry requirements do not allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political.” Peng’s safety is also very important to Tennis Australia.

The approach earned the national association a lot of criticism, for example from Martina Navratilova, who triumphed three times in Melbourne. On Twitter, she accused the organizers and the WTA of a “pathetic” approach.

In the run-up to the tournament, Tennis Australia had only made a brief statement to clarify the cause Peng. The association spokesman said: “We continue to work with the WTA and the tennis community to get clarity about their situation.” Senate candidate Pavlou told The Age, Tennis Australia’s behavior was “hypocritical” and “dishonest”.

How big is the influence of the sponsor?

In the face of criticism, Tennis Australia recoils. The fans are now allowed to wear the said T-shirts. This was confirmed by tournament director Craig Tiley on Tuesday. “If they want to do that, that’s fine,” he said. However, no one who intends to disturb the safety of the fans is welcome on the tennis facility. Banners should remain banned, as “The Age” reported.

The fact that Tennis Australia reacted so cautiously in the affair could be due to the Chinese sponsors of the Grand Slam tournament. The website lists Chinese beverage maker Luzhou Laojiao as the second most important category partner. Luzhou Laojiao produces liquors and is owned by the Chinese state. A Chinese mattress manufacturer is also a sponsor.

Various players commented on Peng Shuai at the Australian Open. Viktoria Azarenka said: “There was no contact with her, but we will do everything we can to guarantee her safety and well-being.” Belarusian Asarenka sits on the WTA Players’ Council. And the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut asked on Twitter whether the Australian Open had buckled in front of the Chinese sponsors. He accused the organizers of “discouragement”.

Meanwhile, Senate candidate Pavlou is collecting money and wants to use it to print Peng Shuai shirts. He will distribute these to the viewers next Saturday before the women’s final.


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