Australian Open reverses its ban on ‘where is Peng Shuai’ t-shirts after fans wearing them in support of disappeared Chinese tennis star were told to take them off by security
- Australian Open authorities to overturn their ban on controversial t-shirts
- The t-shirts had been worn by supporters of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai
- Tennis Australia faced backlash over asking supporters to remove the shirts
- Criticism included suggestions the body was protecting a sponsorship deal
Australian Open authorities will overturn their ban on controversial t-shirts worn by supporters of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.
In a stunning backflip, tournament director Craig Tiley has told news agency AFP that the ban on fans wearing the t-shirts will be lifted.
The decision follows the controversy that grew after footage emerged of event security guards and police demanding a spectator remove her shirt at the grand slam over the weekend.
The activist’s shirt featured the words ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ on the back, with a photo of her face and ‘wanted’ printed on the front.
The man filming the confrontation can be heard asking the guard ‘what do you suggest she wear?’ after the woman was ordered to take off her clothing.
An Australian Open fan has been forced to remove a shirt expressing welfare concerns for tennis star Peng Shuai who disappeared after accusing a senior Chinese politician of rape
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai vanished from public view for three weeks last year after making a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo on November 2 accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of raping her in 2017
Ms Shuai vanished from public view for three weeks last year after making a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo on November 2 accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of raping her in 2017.
In the footage, a police officer informs the pair wearing the shirts that guests aren’t allowed to take ‘political slogans’ into the tennis tournament.
‘This isn’t a political message,’ the male activist responds.
‘This isn’t saying vote for the Liberal or Labour party. This is a female tennis player who is being persecuted and the Women’s Tennis Association has spoken out for her. We are simply [reiterating] what the WTA is saying.’
The cop said he understood what the pair were saying, but ‘Tennis Australia sets the rules’.
Tennis Australia faced accusations of censorship over the ruling on the t-shirts, including suggestions it was protecting a lucrative $100million sponsorship deal with a Chinese liquor company.
Federal Defence Minister Peter Dutton was among those to criticise the organisation for asking the fans to remove the t-shirts.