#WhereIsPengshuai? Feminist activists and sports fans campaign for the missing tennis star

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Women’s Tennis Association spoke out but International Olympic Committee remains silent

Originally published on Global Voices

Image created by Oiwan Lam

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, 35, has not been seen or heard from since accusing former Chinese Communist top leader Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault through Weibo on November 2.

Peng Shuai's post accusing the former Chinese vice premier of sexually assaulting her twice in the last ten years was taken offline less than 20 minutes after she posted it on her official Weibo account. Since then, all her social media accounts have been suspended; her name has become a sensitive term on the Chinese Internet, meaning any post that mentions it gets removed; and she has remained silent for two weeks.

The incident has caught the attention of the world's tennis community. On November 14, Steve Simon, the Chair and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), finally issued a statement demanding a full and transparent investigation into Peng's allegation.

Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness. In all societies, the behavior she alleges that took place needs to be investigated, not condoned or ignored. We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward. Women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected.

We expect this issue to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship.

Meanwhile, Chinese feminist activists and tennis lovers have started using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai? on social media to express their concern over Peng's safety.

As China prepares to host the upcoming Winter Olympics in February 2022, some are calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to speak out for Peng.

Peng's supporters have expressed concern about her safety as her expose involves the highest ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party and threatens the authority of the ruling bloc.

A number of former and current international tennis players, including Nicolas Mahut, Billie Jean King, Novak Djokovic, Martina Navratilova, and more, have spoken out in support of Peng. New York Times reporter Raymond Zhong highlighted Martina Navratilova's reaction to the allegations:

Steve Simon told the New York Times that the WTA could not establish direct contact with Peng but was assured she is safe and currently in Beijing.

Yet, many are skeptical of such “reassurance.” Reuter's correspondent, Ian Ransom, said on Twitter:

Exiled Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao questioned the credibility of the Chinese Tennis Association, which is affiliated with the CCP:

The International Olympic Committee remains silent

The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in China this February. Some have questioned why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not spoken out for Peng Shuai, who has competed in three Olympic Games. Stephen Wade, a sportswriter for the Associated Press, asked:

Teng Biao also called for boycotting of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics:

This week, Chinese feminists have begun posting photos and taking to the streets to voice support for Peng Shuai: