Campaigners who wore T-shirts with the question “Where is Peng Shuai?” at Wimbledon have slammed the ‘double standards’ of the All England Club.
The group of four campaigners arrived at Wimbledon on Monday in normal attire but changed into the T-shirts after entering the premises.
They were then confronted by security and forced to answer numerous questions surrounding their choice of clothing.
Peng is a former Wimbledon doubles champion, who disappeared from the public eye last year after accusing a former Chinese Vice Premier of sexual assault.
What happened to the campaigners?
The campaigners were aiming to raise awareness for Peng but were allegedly ‘harassed’ by security according to one member of the group.
Will Hoyles, who works for the Free Tibet campaign, said: “”We came trying to raise a bit of awareness but Wimbledon have managed to make it worse for themselves by harassing us.
“They were asking loads of questions about what we were going to do, why we were here, you know, what we’d already done etc.
“And we told them we had just been wandering around and we had spoken to a few people and that is when they seemed to get quite suspicious.”
They said they had their bags searched by security after getting on the grounds and were told not to approach others to spread their message, but they were allowed to stay at #Wimbledon with the shirts on, unlike the initial protesters in Melbourne this year. pic.twitter.com/6Y6CNysQo8— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 4, 2022
Meanwhile, another member of the group, Jason Leith, pointed out that the All England Club had banned Russian and Belarusian players but done nothing to condemn China for their treatment of Peng.
“We are banning Russian players and Belarusian players who have spoken out against the war but then there’s all these human rights abuses that the Chinese Communist Party have carried out but that’s absolutely fine,” he said. “So it’s a double standard. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.
“It’s Wimbledon and she’s an ex-Wimbledon champion and if there’s anywhere to go and talk about this and to get that discussion brought back up again it’s going to be here.”
Eventually, the group were let go by security and allowed to continue wearing the T-shirts.
Who is Peng Shuai?
On November 2nd, 2021, Peng posted a video on the Chinese social media site, Weibo, accusing Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her three years prior.
Afterwards, she disappeared from public view and did not re-emerge for two weeks.
The tennis star eventually showed up in Chinese state media, but many observers believe the appearance was staged in response to foreign inquiries.
In response, the WTA suspended all tennis events in China, but there remain concerns over her whereabouts and safety.
WTA chief executive Steve Simon told The Tennis Podcast: “We remain dedicated to finding a resolution to this. We want to find a resolution that Peng can be comfortable with, the Chinese government can be comfortable with, and we can be comfortable with.
“We are not about walking away from China. We have suspended our operations there right now. We will continue to do that until we get to a resolution.”