SportsSpectators finally allowed to wear T-shirts in support of...

Spectators finally allowed to wear T-shirts in support of Peng Shuai

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Spectators at the Australian Open will now be able to wear T-shirts in support of Chinese player Peng Shuai, the organization of the tennis tournament announced on Tuesday, which had created controversy on Sunday. “Yes, provided they don’t come in as a hostile mob to cause trouble but are peaceful,” Open boss Craig Tiley told AFP, adding that security officers would judge. case by case.

The Australian government has put pressure

Open organizers sparked controversy by asking fans to remove their T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Where is Peng Shuai?” on the grounds that the Australian Open “does not allow political clothing, banners or placards”, according to a spokesperson for the Australian Tennis Federation. The American of Czech origin Martina Navratilova, tennis legend with her 18 Grand Slam titles (in singles), denounced a “pathetic” decision on Twitter.

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“There have been misunderstandings for some people who are not here and do not really know the big picture,” said Craig Tiley on Tuesday. “The situation for the past two days is that some people have come with a banner on two big poles and we cannot allow that,” he added. “If you come to watch the tennis, that’s fine, but ultimately we can’t allow anyone to cause a disturbance. »

“Some came with a banner on two large poles”

The about-face comes as local media quoted human rights experts as saying Tennis Australia’s stance could be illegal. In response to the organizers’ ban, an Australian human rights activist managed to raise more than 14,000 Australian dollars (more than 9,000 euros) on the GoFundMe platform in order to print the same t-shirts and distribute to spectators ahead of the final of the women’s tournament.

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The pressure on the organizers was also maintained by the Australian government. “It’s very worrying and I think we should talk about these issues,” Defense Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on Tuesday, encouraging “not just celebrities but also tennis organizations, including Tennis Australia”, to speak.

Tiley decidedly not serene

“We don’t want to drag sport into the realm of politics, but it’s not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue regarding the treatment of a young woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted “, he added.

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Former world doubles number one Peng Shuai is absent from Melbourne amid fears for her well-being after she posted a lengthy post on Chinese social media Weibo in November in which she accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, 40 years her senior, of “forced” sex during a relationship that lasted several years.

China very quickly blocked any reference to this message, and it then did not appear in public for almost three weeks. Her subsequent public appearances did not end concerns over the 36-year-old missing out on the Australian Open.

Australian Open: Medvedev had a hard time against Cressy but qualified for the quarter-finals

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