Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has made her first public appearance since her allegations.
In the Bing Shuai case, China is trying to reassure the world through videos of the tennis player who is believed to have disappeared. Over the weekend, Chinese state media published several short clips that were said to show Peng for the first time after her allegations of sexual assault in public appearances. However, there are still many doubts and criticisms about the host country for next year’s Winter Olympics.
The editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times published a short video on Twitter that allegedly shows the 35-year-old at the opening of a youth tennis tournament at the Beijing Stadium on Sunday. In the clip, Peng wears a dark blue tracksuit and white sweatpants and stands among a group of guests whose names have been called to applause.
A state newspaper reporter tweeted another video purporting to show Bing signing autographs for children in the same playground and then posing for photos. An earlier recording appeared that was supposed to show the former top 20 players with his friends in a restaurant in Beijing. Agence France-Presse was unable to verify the authenticity of the videos.
The video from the restaurant was apparently “recorded on Saturday Beijing time,” Global Times editor Hu Shijin wrote. Indeed, during the conversation, a man said, “Tomorrow is November 20” – but was promptly corrected by a woman that it would be November 21 – hence Sunday. The conversation, apparently filmed on a smartphone, is staged, and Bing makes a soothing impression on the recordings.
WTA President Steve Simon: Video is ‘not enough’
WTA president Steve Simon called the video from the restaurant on Saturday “insufficient.” The head of the Women’s Tennis Organization described it as “positive” to see Ping. However, it remains unclear whether the player is “free and able to make decisions and take actions independently and without coercion or outside interference”.
“Simply put, the WTA is at a crossroads in China,” Simon stressed in a letter to the Chinese ambassador to the United States, demanding: “I hope I can count on you to pass these messages on to the Chinese leadership so that the problem can be resolved.” .
The WTA president had already threatened to withdraw all WTA tournaments from the Middle Kingdom due to the still unclear situation around Peng Shuai. After several high-profile companions, Roger Federer also expressed his displeasure with the “very disturbing news” about Ping at the weekend: “I hope you are safe. The tennis family is together. This is important.”
Bing Shuai wrote on Twitter-like Weibo earlier this month that he was sexually assaulted by 75-year-old former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. The entry in the social milieu as well as several Internet entries about Peng were deleted, of which there was no trace afterwards.
Sports organizations and political representatives had expressed grave concern about the former world number one in doubles and asked China to explain the issue transparently. The calls for her must not be silenced, even after the videos that have appeared now.
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