Peng has not been seen in public since she announced on social media on November 2 that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have sex.
The post on the Chinese platform Weibo has since been deleted and all discussions on the matter in China have been blocked.
WTA chief Steven Simon, who questioned the authenticity of an email allegedly from Peng shared by state media on Thursday, told reporters in the United States that the association was ready to organize tournaments worth millions of dollars on the matter. He called for an investigation into the allegations.
“We are definitely ready to take our business out and face all the complications that come with it,” he told CNN in an interview.
“Because it’s definitely, it’s bigger than the business. Women must be respected and not censored.
Some of the best players in the world have joined a social media campaign demanding to know where she is. Serena Williams wrote on Twitter Thursday that she was “devastated and shocked” by Peng’s disappearance. Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic have also raised concerns about the player.
“I hope she’s safe and found as soon as possible,” Williams wrote. “This needs to be investigated and we must not remain silent. “
Adam Ni, an expert on China who publishes the China Neican newsletter, said the story has become increasingly worrying since it was first published.
“We wrote when the story first broke that ‘Going against a top CCP official can ruin Peng’s life.’ Unfortunately, it seems our fear has come true, ”he wrote on Friday.
Chinese public broadcaster CGTN posted a screenshot on Twitter of an email it said was written by Peng to WTA’s Simon, in which she wrote that the allegations were “not true” and that she was simply resting “at home”.
In response, Simon said he found it hard to believe the email was actually from Peng. Beijing has previously faced allegations of using state media for a forced confession, as UK regulators revoked CGTN’s license for failing to respect fairness and confidentiality rules.
Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a brash Communist Party tabloid, said on Friday that he did not think Peng was targeted by the allegation, which he called “the thing people were talking about. “.
The comments were posted on Twitter and not shared on Weibo.
“As a person familiar with the Chinese system, I don’t think Peng Shuai suffered any retaliation and repression speculated by foreign media for what people have been talking about,” Hu wrote.
Olympic Games in sight
China has remained largely silent on the welfare of the 35-year-old tennis star despite growing international concern.
The former Wimbledon and Roland Garros doubles champion claimed that Zhang, who retired in 2018, “forced” her to have sex during a long-term relationship. His demands mark the first time his fledgling #MeToo movement has hit the top echelons of the ruling Communist Party.
The scandal erupted as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
Official message from Tennis Canada on the current situation regarding former world number one Peng Shuai. ️ pic.twitter.com/PeypgL2tSt
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) November 18, 2021
As someone familiar with the Chinese system, I don’t think Peng Shuai suffered any retaliation and repression speculated by foreign media for what people have been talking about.
— Hu Xijin Hu Xijin (@HuXijin_GT) November 18, 2021
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would not comment on the matter.
“Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution to questions of this nature,” said an IOC spokesperson. “This explains why the IOC will not comment further at this stage. “
US Representative Jim Banks of Indiana said he wrote to US President Joe Biden about Peng’s disappearance, urging him to raise his case in his talks with China and warn Beijing that it could have an impact. negative about the Winter Olympics. The United States is reportedly considering a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games for human rights reasons.
Ni warned that even if international attention to Peng’s case was a “good thing,” China could back down.
“We could see retaliation from the Chinese government against these sports organizations and players, even if it would only bring more attention to Peng’s case,” he said.