Yesterday, the WTA announced it was suspending all tournaments in China due to concerns about Peng Shuai’s safety. She has not been seen for two weeks.
Her disappearance follows public allegations of sexual assault Ms. Peng made against former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
The Wimbledon and Roland Garros doubles champion said the Communist Party politician forced her to have sex during an intermittent, multi-year relationship.
The Chinese government’s comments were made by a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, who, according to state media, said China “has always been strongly opposed to the politicization of sport.”
On November 2, Ms. Peng posted the allegations about Mr. Zhang on the Chinese social media network Weibo.
There has been no response from Zhang so far.
His social media post was quickly deleted, rekindling concerns about the intensity of censorship in China.
However, social media users took screenshots and, although reportedly censored in China, were able to reach an international community by being posted on Twitter, which is prohibited in the country.
This is the first time that the Me Too movement has publicly reached the highly authoritarian state.
International tennis stars have expressed concern over Ms Peng’s fate.
Naomi Osaka, currently the world’s top ranked tennis player, wrote that she was “in shock”.
Serena Williams said she was “devastated and shocked” by the allegations and called for an investigation.
World number one men’s, Novak Djokovic, said: “Honestly, it’s shocking that she’s missing.”