Leading tennis writer Ben Rothenberg has bizarrely shouted Ash Barty beyond her silence on Peng Shuai situation in China.
Some of the biggest names in tennis like Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all expressed their concerns for Peng’s well-being.
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That Chinese star reappeared in public for the first time this week after apparently disappearing after allegations of sexual assault against a former top politician.
Foreign governments and rights activists have also heightened their criticism of China’s human rights practices after Peng disappeared for nearly three weeks after claiming that former Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.
The tennis world has since teamed up to express their support for Peng, with messages from past and present players flooding social media.
But Rothenberg – one of the world’s leading tennis journalists – pointed out this week that Barty, the world’s No. 1, has been silent.
“WTA # 1 Ash Barty has not posted anything about Peng Shuai either,” Rothenberg tweeted after pointing out some other high-profile names who had not yet commented.
Barty has not played since the US Open, which is why she has not held a press conference since September – long before the Peng scandal arose.
The Australian star is also not known for using social media for political purposes.
Fans were quick to question the necessity of Rothenberg shouting at Barty.
IOC under fire over video calls with Peng Shuai
A former double-world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion, Peng reappeared in Beijing over the weekend and held a video call with IOC chief Thomas Bach on Sunday.
But the Women’s Tennis Association and the best current and former tennis players have called for reassurance that Peng is safe, and rights groups have labeled efforts by Chinese state media to allay concerns about her well-being as unconvincing.
HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson told a news briefing on Tuesday that the IOC had shown a “remarkable lack of judgment” in its handling of the Peng case and “active involvement” in Beijing’s aggression.
She said its interest seemed to be to keep the 2022 Winter Olympics on track, not the welfare of the athletes.
Richardson also criticized Bach for not making it clear in public whether he had asked Peng if she had access to a lawyer or wanted to file charges of serious sexual assault allegations, and called on governments to diplomatically boycott the Beijing Games set to February.
“The IOC has shown in the last few days how desperate it is to keep the games on track, regardless of the human cost,” Richardson said, while also slamming corporate sponsors of the games to remain silent on Peng.
Amnesty International China researcher Alkan Akad said the video call did not do much to ease fears over Peng’s well-being, and the IOC was heading into “dangerous waters”.
It says a spokesman for the WTA: “It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they do not alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.
“This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation without censorship of her allegation of sexual assault, which is the question that gave rise to our initial concern.”
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