Event organizer

Tennis star Peng Shuai appears at China Open event, organizer photos show

China’s Peng Shuai, pictured in a file photo from June 30, 2016, comes back against American player Sloane Stephens in their women’s singles second round match of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships.GLYN KIRK / AFP / Getty Images

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose whereabouts have been a matter of international concern for weeks, attended a tennis tournament in Beijing on Sunday, according to official photos released by the tournament hosted by the China Open.

Peng can be seen among the guests of the Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger final, wearing a dark blue jacket and white pants, according to photos posted on the event’s official WeChat page.

The former world number one doubles had not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media on November 2 that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex and that they then had an intermittent consensual relationship.

The Peng Shuai scandal quickly turned into a public relations disaster for the Chinese government

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Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on his allegation. Peng’s social media post was quickly removed, and the topic was blocked in heavily censored internet discussions in China.

World tennis bodies have expressed concern, with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) threatening to withdraw tournaments from China. The United States and Britain have requested evidence of Peng’s whereabouts and his safety.

The photographs and video footage of Peng that emerged on Sunday remain “insufficient” and do not address WTA concerns, a spokesperson for the group told Reuters by email.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said they would continue to ask Peng for confirmation that she was safe.

“Our main concern is the safety and well-being of Peng Shuai,” ITF president Dave Haggerty told Reuters in an email.

“The videos of her this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we will continue to seek direct engagement and confirmation from Peng Shuai herself that she is safe and healthy.”

The US and UK embassies in Beijing did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on his reappearance.

The question of Peng’s safety and fate has emerged as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February amid calls from global rights groups and others to boycott its record in human rights.

A photo of Peng at the Fila tournament was also posted on Twitter by Ding Li, a senior executive at Global D-Sports, a company whose business information app Tianyancha, according to Tianyancha, organizes sporting events and manages sports events. athletes.

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Ding, who told Reuters he was a longtime friend of Peng’s, said his phone was always on, so the WTA could just call him. WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon, however, told Time magazine last week that the organization had attempted to contact her through various means.

Ding said that Peng did not accept interviews from foreign media because she received numerous calls after Simon emailed her assistant with her contact details and copied a number of people into her message.

The WTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the email. Twitter is blocked in China.

On Saturday night, Peng went to a popular restaurant in downtown Beijing for a meal that Ding attended, according to photos he posted on Twitter. Hu Xijin, editor of the state-backed Global Times, reposted a video of the outing, which a restaurant manager confirmed to Reuters on Sunday.

Seven people, including Peng, were at the Szechuan restaurant, manager Zhou Hongmei said, adding that they had eaten in a private room and were joined by the restaurant owner.

“There was a crowd at the restaurant as usual,” Zhou said, showing a bill that included noodles and bamboo shoots. “They didn’t have much. I think they mostly discussed.

Searches of Chinese social media posting platforms into Peng’s allegations continued to yield no results on Sunday. On some video sharing sites like Bilibili, Peng’s name was also not found in searches. Some older videos featuring Peng could still be found, but access to their comments sections was locked.

Chinese state media CGTN on Wednesday published what it said was an email https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/wtas-simon-voices-concern-over-statement-attribued -peng-2021-11- 18 Peng had sent Simon from the WTA, in which she said the assault allegation was false. Simon said at the time that he found it hard to believe that Peng herself wrote the email.

Hu of the Global Times also tweeted Peng’s appearance at the tennis tournament on Sunday. The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China.

Videos posted by Hu and a Global Times reporter showed her smiling, waving and signing autographs for the children.

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