Peng Shuai has asked Chinese state media to stay in the video

People around the world ask, “Where is Peng Shuai?” About two weeks after the questioning began, two questionable videos of a man appearing to be a Chinese tennis star appeared on social media at a restaurant on Saturday.

The videos were shared on Twitter by the editor of a state-run newspaper, but one video questioned the seemingly unusual conversation and the ambiguous location and dates of both Peng’s safety and whether he was present in the videos of his own volition. . A third video, said to be of Peng at a tennis match in Beijing, was posted about 10 hours later, on Sunday.

Peng, in a social media post this month, accused a former top government official of sexually abusing him. Following the allegations, the Chinese government deleted almost all of Peng’s references on social media inside the country, and Peng disappeared from public life. His absence has sparked outrage around the world, especially from top officials and tennis stars.

Steve Simon, WTA’s chief executive, has been particularly harsh on women’s professional tennis tours, demanding verifiable evidence that Peng is safe and that he can move about in society as he pleases, and officials fully investigate his allegations. If not, Simon said the WTA would stop playing tennis tournaments in China.

On Saturday, after the videos surfaced, Simon Peng expressed frustration with his inability to independently verify his health, saying the agency’s “relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

“While it is positive to see him, it remains unclear whether he is independent and able to make decisions and act on his own without any coercive or external interference,” he said. “This video alone is not enough.”

Peng, 35, is the only Chinese tennis player to have achieved world No. 1 ranking in the women’s doubles, and was once promoted by the Chinese government as a model athlete.

The video clips were posted on the Twitter account Hu Jijin, Editor-in-chief of The Global Times, an influential Communist Party newspaper, who described them as having dinner with his coach and friends on Saturday.

He wrote that he “AcquiredThe clips, however, did not explain how, and the clips were staged to set the date Inside The first clip, The man says Peng’s coach is discussing plans with him and asks, “Tomorrow is not November 20?” A woman sitting next to Peng corrected him, saying it would be November 21. He then repeated the date twice.

Inside The second clip, A masked woman, probably Peng, is shown walking in a restaurant. The camera pauses at a sign indicating the date of the last cleanup, a common sight in Chinese buildings since the SARS epidemic. But only November is seen; The date seems unclear.

Hu a post The third video Hours later, Peng described it as the opening ceremony of the final of a teenage tennis match in Beijing on Sunday, where Peng “showed up.”

On Friday, a journalist from another Chinese media entity The published picture is said to be Peng Which appears to be a bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals. In these photos, Peng was seen younger than her in recent photos, and there was nothing to verify when they were taken.

Also on Friday, Simon wrote a letter to the Chinese ambassador to the United States reiterating his allegations and threats to remove nine WTA tournaments in China, including Shenzhen’s prestigious WTA final. All tournaments in China this year have been canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic. The WTA final was completed in Guadalajara, Mexico on Wednesday.

If Peng can’t speak freely, Simon wrote, “We have serious concerns that any of our players will be safe in China.”

The men’s tennis tour has expressed its concerns but has not yet threatened to pull its tournament from China.

The controversy surrounding Peng comes more than two months before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, where the three-time Olympian tennis star is missing in one of the world’s largest sporting events.

The International Olympic Committee says it believes “calm diplomacy” will provide the best opportunity to resolve the situation. On Friday, Dick Pound, an IOC member, told Reuters that if the situation with Peng was “not resolved in an intelligent way soon, it could spiral out of control.” He added: “I doubt if this will lead to the closure of the Olympic Games. But you never know.”

Simon has been trying to establish personal contact with Peng through phone numbers and other digital communications for more than a week but has not been able to speak to him.

Saturday’s videos are the latest in a series of media reports from a Chinese-controlled body seeking to secure Peng’s security. Earlier this week, China’s state-owned broadcaster reportedly released a message from him.

“Hello everyone, this is Peng Shuai,” it reads. It called the allegations of sexual harassment, which were made a few weeks ago, untrue. “I’m not missing, I’m not insecure,” the message said. “I am resting at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for taking care of me. “

Simon quickly condemned the message.

“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email believing the email we received or what he is being blamed for,” he said.

Zhang Gaoli, 75, a former vice-premier of Peng China, accused him of sexual harassment at his home three years ago. In a post on his verified account on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, Peng wrote that the attack took place after Zhang invited him to play tennis at his home. “I was so scared that afternoon,” he said. “I never agreed, I cried all the time.”

He also described his relationship with Zhang as “on-off”.

White House Press Secretary Jane Sackie said Friday that the Biden administration is paying close attention to the situation and is “deeply concerned.” He called on the Chinese government to provide “independent, verifiable evidence” of Peng’s whereabouts.

In recent times, a number of notable tennis names have joined the chorus, claiming that Peng is safe.

Former player and ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe said in an interview on Friday, “We have to see him in a live video that is holding a newspaper from today, or better yet, hitting the ball.” McEnroe coached Peng early in his tennis career.

“If nothing happens, and the people I talk to, if the Chinese don’t really care what we think, and we never hear from Peng or we don’t have any clues, then the only real thing for professional tennis is The rest of the way is the tournament from China, ”he said.

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep And Coco Gough Among the current female players who have posted their concerns for Peng on social media. Novak Djokovic Shared a statement from the Professional Tennis Players Association, of which he is a co-founder.

Martina Navratilova, a former champion who defected from Czechoslovakia in 1975 to escape communist rule, is also talking about Peng.

“I do not believe what they are saying,” Navratilova said of the Chinese government in an interview on Saturday. “There’s a lot of subterfuge going on here.”

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