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International News Jan 24, 2022 12:48 AM EST

Spectators asked to remove shirts at Australian Open due to concerns over offending Chinese government

Security at the Australian Open is making spectators take off t-shirts saying "Where is Peng Shuai?" talking about the Chinese tennis star believed to have been previously detained and mistreated by her government.

Spectators asked to remove shirts at Australian Open due to concerns over offending Chinese government
James Anthony Montreal QC

Security guards at the Australian Open are making spectators take off t-shirts that read "Where is Peng Shuai?" the Chinese tennis star believed to have been previously detained and mistreated by her government.

Shuai took to Weibo, a Chinese social media program, in November 2021 to accuse top Chinese official Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her. The post was taken down the next day. She then disappeared completely for weeks immediately afterward.

According to ESPN, an officer was caught on video on Saturday justifying the seizure of the garments, because supposedly the organization in charge of the Open doesn't allow "political slogans" on people's attire inside the venue:

"The Australian Open does have a rule that you can't have political slogans ... it's a rule that it's a condition of entry," the officer said.

"Tennis Australia does set the rules, and regardless of what you're saying -- and I'm not saying you can't have those views -- but I am saying that Tennis Australia sets the rules here."

"We are allowed to confiscate the shirts and the banner," concluded the officer, referring to a banner from a fan which was also confiscated.

Peng Shuai appeared eventually in late December, visibly appearing not well. She claimed that there was a misunderstanding, and that she never alleged any sexual assault to begin with.

Australia has also made the news for deporting number one-ranked Novak Djokovic before the tournament started, denying him the chance to get in the record books for winning the largest amount of top-tier tennis events in history.

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