Australian Open confiscated “Where is Peng Shuai?” banners, sparking a GoFundMe page with bigger aim
When a fan had his “Where is Peng Shuai?” banners and t-shirts confiscated, he tried a different approach.
Fans at the Australian Open were asked to remove banners sporting the slogan “Where Is Peng Shuai?” which has sparked the formation of a GoFundMe page that aims to hand out 1,000 t-shirts with the slogan emblazoned on the back.
In November of 2021, the former World No 1 doubles player took to the internet to accuse a high-ranking official, Communist Party member Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault. Any signs of her allegations were quickly scrubbed from the internet, and Peng temporarily disappeared, which sparked concerns about her whereabouts and safety.
Since, Peng has appeared in several videos and made statements refuting her claims, but it isn’t clear if she’s being coerced. WTA boss Steve Simon has suspended tour events in China in 2022, as he calls for a fair and free investigation into the matter.
“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” he said in a statement.
Peng Shuai continues to be a hot topic in press conferences in Melbourne, with several players still expressing their concern for her well being.
Australian Open – we don’t allow political signs
The tournament released a statement to ESPN explaining its stance.
“Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political,” a spokesperson said. “Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her well-being.”
The GoFundMe page, organised by Drew Pavlou, states its mission clearly.
“Tennis Australia called police on human rights activists at the 2022 Australian Open for simply wearing shirts asking the same question Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and fans the world over have asked: ‘Where is Peng Shuai?'” a statement on the page read. “Given this disappointing turn of events, my idea is quite simple. How about we present major difficulties for Tennis Australia by printing off one thousand of these shirts and giving them out for free to spectators entering the Women’s Grand Final.”
The GoFundMe page set a goal of $7500 Australian, and has nearly achieved it in 24 hours.