Peng Shuai: Video claims to show tennis player at tournament

Peng Shuai: Video claims to show tennis player at tournament

Media caption, WTA chairman ‘worried about Peng’s safety’Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has reportedly appeared as a guest at a tennis tournament in Beijing.A state media journalist posted a video clip on Twitter showing Ms Peng, 35, smiling while standing with officials, and said it was from Sunday morning.However, international tennis officials say it is…

Media caption,

WTA chairman ‘worried about Peng’s safety’

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has reportedly appeared as a guest at a tennis tournament in Beijing.

A state media journalist posted a video clip on Twitter showing Ms Peng, 35, smiling while standing with officials, and said it was from Sunday morning.

However, international tennis officials say it is not enough to alleviate their concerns about her wellbeing.

Ms Peng had not been seen since she made sexual assault allegations against a senior minister two weeks ago.

Her safety has become a matter of international concern, with prominent players including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka joining calls from governments and tennis officials demanding to know she is safe.

A clip published on Sunday by the editor of the Global Times – a Chinese government-affiliated media organisation – said Ms Peng was “at the opening ceremony of a teenager tennis match final”, reported to be the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Finals.

Reuters news agency reports the event organisers also published photos of the player on the event’s official WeChat page.

It is the third clip published on the journalist’s account, with the previous two purportedly showing Ms Peng having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant.

However a spokesperson from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) told Reuters the videos were “insufficient” evidence of her safety and did not address its concerns about Ms Peng.

“While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference,” WTA chief Steve Simon said.

An email had earlier been released by Chinese state media, purportedly written by the tennis star, which said the assault allegations were “not true” and “everything is fine”. The WTA and rights group Amnesty International cast doubt on the authenticity of the email.

The UK Foreign Office issued a statement saying it was “extremely concerned” about her and called on China to “urgently provide verifiable evidence of her safety and whereabouts”.

The United Nations has said it wants proof of Ms Peng’s whereabouts and has urged the need for an investigation “with full transparency”.

Ms Peng – a former number one-ranked tennis doubles player – posted an allegation about former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Chinese social media site Weibo in early November.

She alleged she was forced into sexual relations with Mr Zhang, in a post that was taken down minutes later. It is the first time such a claim has been made against one of China’s senior political leaders.

Some of the biggest names in tennis have raised concerns about Ms Peng’s welfare.

Serena Williams tweeted she was “devastated and shocked”.

On Saturday 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer weighed in, saying: “Clearly it’s concerning. I hope she’s safe.”

In a video clip posted on the Twitter account of a fiercely loyal Communist Party news editor, Peng Shuai can be seen standing alongside other dignitaries, and smiling and waving as her name is announced.

The short clip is said to have been filmed on Sunday morning and follows two other short videos released by state media, including one of the former Wimbledon doubles champion with friends in a restaurant, offered as proof that she is not under any form of duress.

But they’ve only raised further questions, over apparent editing and their seemingly staged nature, and so far there’s been no let up in the calls from the Women’s Tennis Association, a number of global tennis stars as well as governments, for proof that Peng Shuai is genuinely free to speak and acts as she chooses.

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