Vanished Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai Spotted In Public But Critics Say Reappearance 'Insufficient'

Tennis star Peng Shuai reappeared in public this weekend, showing up to a youth tournament in Beijing, according to photos and video released by journalists in attendance at the event.

The 35-year-old tennis superstar had been unaccounted for and allegedly disappeared for several weeks after she had accused a prominent senior leader of the Communist Party of China of sexual assault.

Those in the tennis community abroad feared that Peng had been physically harmed upon her disappearance following the sexual assault allegation. And now, even though she has reappeared, skeptics say it is still not enough for them to know she is safe and unharmed.

This situation began earlier this month when Peng posted a statement on social media accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former member of the Communist Party’s Standing Committee that rules the inner circle of power, of forcing her to have sex with him despite repeated refusals. After that statement was posted, Peng’s social media channels were scrubbed and she vanished for several weeks, failing to show up for various events or be otherwise seen in public.

Upon her return to the Chinese hosted tennis event this weekend, the country’s state-run media posted that she had “stayed in her own home freely,” and otherwise tested that she would “show up in public and participate in some activities soon.”

An editor of a Chinese state-affiliated media outlet, Hu Xijin, showed video of her appearing to smile at the event over the weekend:

Per TMZ, other recent videos appeared to show Peng having dinner at a restaurant on Saturday night:

Still, skeptics worldwide are voicing their uncertainty and displeasure about what may or may not be going on.

Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, released a statement on Saturday questioning Peng’s freedom after the release of both of the videos (above).

Simon said:

“While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. This video alone is insufficient. As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

The president of the International Tennis FederationDave Haggerty, also released a statement about Peng:

“The primary concern is Peng Shuai’s safety and her well-being. 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 well.”

Even tennis superstar Roger Federer voiced his concern about Peng’s situation, telling Sky Italia (below):

“She’s one of our tennis champions, a former world No. 1, and clearly it’s concerning. I hope she’s safe. The tennis family sticks together, and I’ve always told my children as well that the tennis family is my second family. I’ve been on tour for 20-25 years and I love the tour, I love the people that are there, are special, the players as well, and she’s one of them.”

Interesting…

As ESPN reports, China’s Foreign Ministry has “repeatedly disavowed any knowledge of Peng’s case,” and “denied knowing about the outcry over his disappearance.”

All we can hope for is that she’s truly safe and secure.

And that her sexual assault allegations are actually taken seriously…

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