The final day of the Wimbledon championships could have hundreds of fans wearing ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ t-shirts if activists from the group who were stopped and questioned by All England Club security earlier this week have their way.
Four activists from Free Tibet and Power to Hongkongers who wore the t-shirts were stopped by security on Monday. The groups said they would return on Sunday and distribute the t-shirts to spectators ahead of the women's doubles final.
The whereabouts and well-being of Peng — a former doubles number one and doubles champion at Wimbledon — became a cause for concern worldwide when she accused China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault last November.
Her social media post was subsequently removed and she disappeared from public view for three weeks, leading the women's tour to suspend all of its tournaments in China, with the WTA not returning to the country this year.
“The All England Club seems terrified of upsetting the Chinese government and its allies,” Jason Leith, one of the activists who was stopped at Wimbledon, said in a statement.
“Our simple action on Monday gained huge support from tennis fans and we think they will want to show their solidarity with Peng Shuai and other victims of Chinese human rights abuses.
“We hope that the All England Club will embrace this peaceful statement and acknowledge their missing champion ahead of the women’s doubles finals.”
China denies allegations of human rights abuses and says it opposes the “politicisation” of sports.
The All England Club, which organises the Wimbledon grasscourt Grand Slam, did not respond to requests for comment.
Top seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and China’s Zhang Shuai will take on the second-seeded Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles final.