The United Nations (UN) has asked China for proof of missing tennis star Peng Shuai’s whereabouts.
Peng, 35, has been missing since making sexual assault allegations against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli more than two weeks ago.
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“It would be important to have proof of her whereabouts and well-being and we would urge that there be an investigation with full transparency into her allegations of sexual assault,” Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s office, told reporters in Geneva.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
“According to available information, Peng, a former world doubles number one, hasn’t been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that she had been sexually assaulted.
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“We would stress that it’s important to know where she is and her state, know about her well-being. We think it would be important that there’s an investigation into her allegations.”
China’s central government has refused to even acknowledge any concern for Peng, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman sticking to Beijing’s line on Friday that his agency, at least, wasn’t aware of the controversy.
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Zhao Lijian told reporters the matter was “not a diplomatic question, and I’m not aware of the situation.”
Female tennis player Peng Shuai whereabouts currently unknown after making Sexual abuse allegations against Chinese government official.
This speech gives us a reminder and some hope that things can change in the future 🙏 #WhereIsPengShuai https://t.co/eKnLCHcPLj
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) November 19, 2021
The news about Peng Shuai is deeply upsetting. I want to lend my voice of support to an incredibly courageous fellow WTA player and pray that she is found safe and well 🙏#whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/5j7Xz65Gdr
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) November 19, 2021
The International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Friday that experience had taught the organization, “that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution for questions of such nature,” and declining any further comment.
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There has been a mounting outcry from tennis players and the WTA and ATP.
WTA chief Steve Simon, on Thursday, told CNN that they were “definitely willing to pull our business” out of China if the country fails to account for Peng’s whereabouts and investigate her allegations.
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“This is bigger than the business,” Simon told CNN. “Women need to be respected and not censored.”
Simon said in 2018 that China had promised to invest about $1 billion in women’s tennis, including for the construction of an all-new stadium, as part of the agreement.
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In his interview with CNN, Simon acknowledged the magnitude of his threat to walk away from that agreement, and said the WTA was prepared to “deal with all the complications that come with it.”