Tennis Australia has decided to allow fans to wear T-shirts supporting Peng Shuai. Photograph:( AFP )
The Australian Open has reversed the ban on 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts after a severe global backlash in the last couple of days.
The Australian Open organisers have decided to revoke the ban on 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts after a severe global backlash. The move comes after a couple of fans were recently asked to remove their T-shirts featuring the message in support of the Chinese tennis star at Melbourne Park. The video of the incident had gone viral on social media leading to a global outcry.
In the video shared by an activist on social media, two fans wearing a T-shirt with Shuai's face on the front and the message - 'Where is Peng Shuai?' on the back were asked to remove them by the security staff at the venue. They were also carrying banners with the same message which were also confiscated by the security officials.
Chinese tennis star Shuai had gone missing for weeks after accusing former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her. She made the accusations in a social media post which was taken down just 30 minutes after being shared but soon went viral on social media.
Shuai has since reappeared in public but there remain concerns over her safety with several tennis stars also expressing their support for her during the ongoing Australian Open. On Tuesday (January 25), Tennis Australia's chief executive Craig Tiley announced that fans will be allowed to wear T-shirts with messages supporting Shuai at the Australian Open.
"If someone wants to wear a T-shirt and make a statement about Peng Shuai that's fine," Tiley quoted as saying in The Sydney Morning Herald. However, he insisted that banners will still not be allowed as "it really takes away from the comfort and safety of the fans".
Tennis Australia had faced intense criticism for their move of banning T-shirts with messages supporting Shuai after the video of the supporters being asked to remove their shirts and banners had gone viral last week. Many had suggested that the Australian Open organisers were bowing to pressure from a major Chinese sponsor.
After disappearing for weeks, Shuai had made her first public appearance during a media interview in December this year. She had refused making sexual assault allegations against the former Chinese vice-premier in the interview and claimed that her post was 'misunderstood'.