Chinese state media show video clips and photos of tennis player Peng Shuai, East Asia

BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP) – Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has stayed home “freely” and will make a public appearance “soon,” said Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a prominent media reporter for State. (November 20).

Former world number one double Peng has not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on November 2 that former vice premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into dating sexual intercourse and subsequently had an intermittent consensual relationship.

Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on his allegation.

Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted, and the topic blocked on China’s heavily censored internet.

“For the past few days, she has stayed at home freely and she didn’t want to be disturbed. She will be showing up in public and participating in some activities soon, ”Hu wrote on Twitter.

The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China.

Hu said he confirmed from his sources that photos shared on Twitter by a reporter for Chinese state media, allegedly showing Peng at home, depicted her “current condition.”

He also posted a video later on Saturday that appeared to show Peng at a restaurant.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the images or video.

“I am happy to see videos released by Chinese state media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing,” Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) President Steve Simon said in a statement.

“While it is positive to see her, it is still unclear whether she is free and able to make decisions and act on her own, without coercion or outside interference. This video alone is insufficient.

“As I have stated from the start, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault allegation is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear on what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads. “

Late Friday, the @shen_shiwei Twitter account, tagged “Chinese state-affiliated media” by the social network, posted four undated images of Peng.

He said the images, which could not be independently verified by Reuters or AFP, were shared on Peng’s WeChat Moments, a feature often reserved for friends, to wish his followers a “good week. -end “.

A photo shows the smiling player with a cat in her arms, with stuffed animals, a trophy, a Chinese flag and certificates visible in the background.

Another shot shows a selfie of Peng with a toy from the Kung Fu Panda children’s animation, with an image of Winnie the Pooh in the background. The children’s character is often censored online in China, as critics say Chinese leader Xi Jinping looks like the cartoon.

Twitter is blocked in China and only people with a VPN-like workaround can access it. However, many Chinese diplomats and state media have accounts for defending China’s point of view.

Growing concern

As concerns grow over his fate, the WTA has threatened to withdraw tournaments from China and the men’s ATP has sought clarification from Chinese authorities. The United States has requested evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and his safety.

The International Olympic Committee could be pressured to take a hard line with hosts of the Beijing Olympics in 2022, senior IOC member Dick Pound told Reuters.

So far, the IOC has declined to comment, saying it believes “quiet diplomacy” offers the best opportunity for a solution.

The IOC Athletes’ Commission, made up of athletes elected by their peers, said they were “very worried” about Peng and hoped that contacts with her and other athletes could be established soon.

Wimbledon organizers The All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a statement: “We are united with the rest of tennis in the need to understand that Peng Shuai is safe. We have worked to support the WTA’s efforts to establish its security through our relationships behind the scenes. “

Great Swiss tennis player Roger Federer also joined the chorus of athletes expressing concern for Peng.

“She was the number one (doubles player) in the world, but despite that I hope she’s doing well,” Federer told Sky Sports Italy.

“The whole tennis family is with her. I am connected to all players. I hope good news will come from her soon.

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