Tennis

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai reappears

China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose whereabouts have been a matter of international concern for weeks, reappeared on Sunday.

She attended a tennis tournament in Beijing, according to official photos published by the tournament organised by China Open.

Peng can be seen among guests at the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals, dressed in a dark blue jacket and white trousers, according to the pictures published on the event’s official WeChat page.

The former doubles world number one had not been seen or heard from publicly since she said former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex and they later had an on-off consensual relationship.

Peng made the claim on Chinese social media on Nov. 2.

Since then, she vanished.

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

Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted and the topic has been blocked from discussion on China’s heavily censored internet.

World tennis bodies have expressed concern, with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) threatening to pull tournaments out of China. The United States and Britain have called for evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and safety.

The photographs and video footage of Peng that emerged on Sunday remain “insufficient” and do not address the WTA’s concerns, a spokesperson for the group told Reuters by email.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it would continue to seek confirmation from Peng that she was safe.

“Our primary concern is Peng Shuai’s safety and her well-being,” ITF President Dave Haggerty told Reuters in an email.

“The videos of her this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we will continue to seek direct engagement and confirmation from Peng Shuai herself that she is safe and well.”

The U.S. and British embassies in Beijing did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on her reappearance.

The issue of Peng’s safety and whereabouts has emerged as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February amid calls from global rights groups and others for a boycott over its human rights record.

A photo of Peng at the Fila tournament was also posted on Twitter by Ding Li, a senior executive of Global D-Sports, a company which corporate information app Tianyancha says organises sports events and manages athletes.

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