The disappearance of 36-year-old Chinese women’s tennis player, Peng Shuai, has caused many to worry about the athlete’s well-being, so a group of activists attempted to raise awareness of the issue inside of the Wimbledon grounds before they were abruptly questioned and searched by security guards, who later told them they were not allowed to speak in any way about Shuai.
According to one of the men who was part of the individuals questioned by security, Jason Leith of the Free Tibet activist group, “We didn’t have these [shirts] on when we came in because we were worried about not being let in,” he said regarding the “where is Peng Shuai?” shirts they all wore at the time of removal.
“We put them on, and we were just walking around, and a few people wanted selfies with us, so we were taking pictures with people,” Leith continued. “They [security] started asking, ‘Are you planning to do any direct protesting? Are you planning on disrupting things?’ And then they asked, ‘Oh, do you mind coming over here so we can search your bags?'”
Security didn’t find anything problematic so them allowed them to go about their business on the stipulation that they didn’t speak about Peng Shuai to any of the other event attendees.
Will Hoyles, one of the other activists, said “We came trying to raise a bit of awareness but Wimbledon have managed to make it worse for themselves by harassing us.”
Shuai disappeared for weeks in 2021 after she accused a CCP official of pressuring her into a sexual relationship against her will. The accusations were posted to social media, yet were almost immediately removed and conversations of the accusation were censored by the CCP. The former doubles world champion would only later be seen in public at pre-approved opportunities coordinated by the CCP, but did not provide any follow-up regarding where she had been.
Due to the immediate concerns over Shaui’s safety and the behavior of the CCP regarding the athlete’s disappearance, The WTA suspended all future events in China as a result of the situation.
WTA Chairman Steve Simon said in a statement at the time that “With the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.”
Simon continued, saying “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. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”
Do you believe the security guard’s actions were justifiable?