Australian Open news: ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ banners removed from Melbourne Park

Peng Shuai

Officials at the Australian Open have removed banners and t-shirts with the question ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ as fans are continually concerned about the wellbeing of the Chinese player.

Tournament organisers said that “political and commercial” banners aren’t allowed inside Melbourne Park which is why they were removed, but explained that the safety of Peng was their primary concern.

In reaction to this move by the Aus Open, fans have now set up a GoFundMe page, which so far is up to $7,805 Australian dollars in donations out of a target of $10,000, with the aim to get 1,000 fans to wear a t-shirt in the women’s final.

Ever since Peng made sexual assault accusations towards the former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli in November on Chinese social media site Weibo and subsequently disappeared, people all around the globe have been worried for her.

The 36-year-old publicly resurfaced a few weeks later, but two fans wanted to highlight the issue at the Australian Open this week with their material, but they had it removed.

In a statement to ESPN, the season opening Grand Slam organisers explained their reasoning behind removing items.

“Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political,” the statement said.

“Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern – we continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing.”

Naomi Osaka, who was knocked out of the Australian Open earlier this week in the third round, has said she’s proud of the WTA for their handling of the situation but insists more information around the situation is needed.