Australian Open officials reverse ban on Peng Shuai shirts following backlash

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told The Associated Press that fans at Melbourne Park will now be allowed to wear the shirts that readWhere is Peng Shuai?” as long as they don’t gather in large, disruptive groups.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN UNDER FIRE AFTER ASKING FANS TO REMOVE SHIRTS CRITICIZING CHINA OVER PENG SHUAI

If they want to do that, va bene,” he said in a phone interview. “If anyone’s coming on site with the express intent of disrupting the comfort and safety of our fans, they’re not welcome.

Two spectators wearing "Where is Peng Shuai?" Magliette, referring to the former doubles world number one from China, are pictured in the stands on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Jan. 25, 2022.

Two spectators wearingWhere is Peng Shuai?” Magliette, referring to the former doubles world number one from China, are pictured in the stands on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Jan. 25, 2022. (PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images)

Lui continuò: “We can’t sell tickets in advance and have people come in and feel unsafe because there’s a large group of people that are using (the tournament) as a platform to espouse their views on whatever topic it is.

Videos posted to social media over the weekend appeared to show security at the Australian Open confiscating a banner supporting Peng because it was seen as making a political statement, an apparent violation of the tournament’s rules.

CLICCA QUI PER MAGGIORE COPERTURA SPORTIVA .

Australian human rights campaigner Drew Pavlou (L) is pictured wearing a "Where is Peng Shuai?" T-shirt, referring to the former doubles world number one from China, on the grounds outside one of the venues on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Jan. 25, 2022.

Australian human rights campaigner Drew Pavlou (L) is pictured wearing aWhere is Peng Shuai?” T-shirt, referring to the former doubles world number one from China, on the grounds outside one of the venues on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images)

“Guarda, condition of entry to the whole venue – you’re not supposed to bring any political statements in …,” one security officer could be heard saying.

The fans were also asked to remove their shirts. Police arrived on the scene and clarified the rules saying: “Regardless of any particular views on the issues, the Australian Open does have a rule that there can’t be any political slogans.

Tennis Australia initially defended the policy saying: “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 well-being.

Peng, 35, made headlines in November when she wrote a lengthy post on Chinese social media platform Weibo that alleged former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago. The post was removed and Peng briefly disappeared from the public for two weeks after making the initial post.

Shuai Peng at Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center on Jan. 6, 2020 in Shenzhen, Cina.

Shuai Peng at Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center on Jan. 6, 2020 in Shenzhen, Cina. (Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

She later emerged to deny saying she was sexually assaulted and that she was mainly staying at home in Beijing but was free to come and go as she chose.

L'Associated Press ha contribuito a questo rapporto.

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