Australian Open will allow ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ T-shirts

Where Is Peng Shuai T-Shirts at the Australian Open

The Australian Open has reversed a controversial ban on T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’.

This comes as protesters announced their intention to draw attention to the well-being of the former WTA star, who is believed to have been censured by the CCP in her native China.

Concerns about her safety continue even as officials are seemingly satisfied with the limited interviews conducted with the star since she first dropped off the radar.

Protesters are critical of the ongoing relationship between the professional tours and China and also the Australian Open’s decision to take on Chinese sponsors.

“Unfortunately for them, they are going to have these political problems on their hands for the next few years,” protest organiser Drew Pavlou told The Guardian.

“We are just not going to allow that tension and that contradiction to go unnoticed and we are going to make trouble for Tennis Australia.”

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has confirmed the decision to overturn their short-lived and controversial ban on “Where is Peng Shuai?” merchandise at this year’s Open.

Tiley later added the t-shirt protests would be permitted provided “they are not coming as a mob to be disruptive but are peaceful.”

Only China’s zero-COVID policy kept the ATP Tour from returning to the country in 2022.

While the WTA Tour has asked China to provide further assurances regarding the safety of their former player before they will allow Chinese events to return to the circuit.

Official pressure on China over the Peng Shuai incident has been scattershot and there has been criticism of the ATP Tour’s lack of concern in particular.

Former World No 1 Martin Navratilova has come out in support of the protests and feels that more needs to be done when player safety is at stake.

“I support the protests,” added three-time Australian Open-winner Martina Navratilova. “The Women’s Tennis Association is the only one that has actually tried to do something [about Peng Shuai].”

Peng Shuai abruptly disappeared from the public eye back in November 2021 after she accused former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her in multiple incidents stretching back three years.

The protesters turned up at every Grand Slam in 2022 and intend to continue to lift their voices in support of Peng Shuai.

Chances are we could see some sort of repeat of a spectator being removed from the stands for shouting ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ as happened during the Wimbledon final between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.