China hits back at ‘malicious hyping’ of Peng Shuai situation as Naomi Osaka’s Weibo account gets censored
China has criticised “certain people” of “politicising” the controversy surrounding tennis player Peng Shuai, insisting the situation is “not a diplomatic matter”.
Shortly after accusing the country’s former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexually assaulting her on social media, Peng’s post was deleted and she disappeared from the public eye for three weeks.
Following international outcry – with the WTA leading from the front – the former doubles world No 1 re-emerged over the weekend as state media released a series of photos and videos.
She also had a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, although only a still image was made public.
The WTA has threatened to pull all tournaments from China as they have called for “a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault” while the ATP has backed their stance.
However, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian insisted it was “not a diplomatic matter” during a press briefing and dismissed the criticism the country has received.
“I think certain people should stop deliberately and maliciously hyping up, let alone politicise this issue,” he said.
He added: “I believe you have all seen that she recently attended some public events and had a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach.”
Meanwhile, four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka’s social media account with Weibo was censored in China following her criticism on Twitter.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) November 16, 2021
On the back of Peng’s disappearance from public life, Osaka wrote: “Hey everyone, not sure if you’ve been following the news but I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused. Censorship is never OK at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and OK. I’m in shock of [sic] the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way. #whereispengshuai”
The former world No 1’s Weibo account is now no longer visible in China.
Iga Swiatek has surprised even her coach with 2022 progress
Iga Swiatek looks poised to be even better in 2023.
Emma Raducanu’s quest to toughen up is on track – Tim Henman
Emma Raducanu is working on her toughness.
ATP top 10 prize-money earners in 2022: Novak Djokovic leads the way as Nick Kyrgios cracks top 10
Your ATP top 10 prize-money earners in 2022.
Rafael Nadal confirms one event that he will skip in 2023 as cool images emerge from exhibition match
Rafael Nadal won’t defend one of his titles in 2023.
Bianca Andreescu finally ‘in tune with herself’ and hopes to use tennis ‘to help inspire others’
Bianca Andreescu feeling the love on and off the court.
Canada worthy Davis Cup winners as lucky losers, wildcards and substitutes all part of tennis history
Oh, Canada! Enjoy your Davis Cup win.
Ashleigh Barty ‘honoured’ as she battles Nick Kyrgios for prestigious Australian tennis award
Who is your Australian tennis player of the year?
Rafael Nadal says Big Three rivalry with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic key to their longevity
Rafael Nadal says Big Three rivalry has taken them to “extreme mental and tennis levels”.
Judy Murray the latest to be accused of accepting ‘sportswashing role in Saudi Arabia’
Judy Murray urged “to use the opportunity to speak out and show solidarity”.
Fernando Verdasco’s voluntary doping suspension opens a can of worms in tennis
The use of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in tennis questioned.