Tennis Australia has defended its decision to ban t-shirts that say ‘Where is Peng Shuai’ at the Australian Open.
It comes after Drew Pavlou, a Queensland-based candidate running for the Australian Senate, uploaded a video to social media of police asking spectators wearing the shirts at the Australian Open to remove them.
Peng is a Chinese tennis star who last year alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a former Chinese Government official. Since the allegation, there has been significant concern for her safety.
Although there have been some reports Peng is safe, the CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, said in December he has “serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation”.
Defending its decision, Tennis Australia said in a statement: “Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political. “Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing.”
Drew Pavlou has since started a GoFundMe page to raise money to print 1,000 of the shirts and hand them out “for free to spectators entering the Women’s Grand Final”. Pavlou said “this has nothing to do with Australian party politics” and is “not about anything other than raising awareness for a human being in need”.