ITF says player safety top priority amid concerns over China’s Peng | Tennis News


The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is dedicated to player safety and helps an investigation into the whereabouts of Chinese player Peng Shuai, the governing physique mentioned on Thursday.
Peng, 35, hasn’t been seen or heard from publicly since she mentioned on social media {that a} former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, coerced her into intercourse and that they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
Her submit was deleted about half an hour later.
“Player safety is always our top priority and we support a full and transparent investigation into this matter,” the ITF mentioned in an announcement to Reuters.
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman Steve Simon expressed doubt over an electronic mail the affiliation obtained on Wednesday wherein Peng denied the allegations of sexual assault.
The electronic mail, launched by Chinese state media outlet CGTN, quoted Peng as saying: “I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”
Simon mentioned he had a “hard time believing” that Peng really wrote the e-mail herself.
“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” he mentioned in an announcement.
“The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.”
Simon’s calls for had been backed up by human rights group Amnesty International, which mentioned that China should show that the player is secure.
“Peng’s recent so-called statement that ‘everything is fine’ should not be taken at face value as China’s state media has a track record of forcing statements out of individuals under duress, or else simply fabricating them,” mentioned Amnesty’s China researcher, Doriane Lau.
“These concerns will not go away unless Peng’s safety and whereabouts are confirmed.”
Reuters reached out to the Chinese Tennis Association in addition to the International Olympic Committee however didn’t instantly obtain a response.
There has been mounting concern for Peng amongst fellow gamers, with four-times main winner Naomi Osaka and males’s world primary Novak Djokovic each expressing shock.
“Censorship is never ok at any cost. I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I’m in shock of the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.

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