Naomi Osaka the World tennis champion has become the newest athlete to voice concerns over the location of Peng Shuai the Chinese tennis player.
One of China’s biggest sporting stars, Ms Peng has not been heard from since she made illegal sexual contact allegations against a top Chinese official.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) declared it had firmly established that she is
“safe and not under any physical threat”.
Still, they were incapable of directly reaching her.
Ms Osaka tweeted, using the hashtag #WhereisPengShuai.
“I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused,”
“I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I’m in shock of the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way.”
It comes as a number of tennis players have spoken up about Ms Peng.
The beginning of the week, Novak Djokovic, world number one tennis player said he hoped she is okay, adding that he was shocked.
Nicholas Mahut, French player as well weighed in, saying
“we are all concerned”.
A one-time number one ranked tennis doubles player- Ms Peng had posted about the alleged assault against Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Chinese social media site Weibo in November.
In this post, she stated she was “forced” into a sexual relationship with Mr Zhang.
Mr Zhang, 75, served as China’s Vice Premier between 2013 and 2018 and was a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He is yet to respond to her claims.
Her post was later removed from the site and all mention of her on social media have been scoured.
Ms Peng has in addition not been seen or heard of publicly since. She remained incommunicado.
Chief Executive of the WTA Steve Simon had previously called on Chinese authorities to conduct “a full and transparent investigation” into Ms Peng’s allegations concerning sexual assault.
“We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage… women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected.”
Mr Simon declared the WTA had received assurance from a number of sources, inclusive of the Chinese Tennis Association that Ms Peng was safe, yet added that he had not been able to reach her directly.
Mr Simon told news outlet The New York Times,
“My understand is that she is in Beijing in China, but I can’t confirm that because I haven’t spoken directly with her,”.
Ms Peng’s assertion is the highest profile case in China’s #MeToo movement, which has almost entirely been going under the radar.
The #MeToo icon China is trying to silence