Fans who are concerned with China’s horrendous human rights violations were silenced Monday. This didn’t happen on Chinese soil either. It was in the United Kingdom. Wimbledon, no less.
Last fall, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai stated on social media that she had been raped by a high-ranking Chinese communist leader. She disappeared from public for several days, and the social media message was scrubbed by China’s government censors. Upon her return, she disavowed her rape claim.
Shuai is missing again, having not been seen in public since late last year. That prompted fans at the ongoing 2022 Wimbledon tennis tournament to wear “Where’s Shuai?” shirts. Wimbledon officials told them not to speak to other fans about Shuai.
That wasn’t the end of it. Wimbledon officials also searched the belongings of four men representing Free Tibet, a human rights organization. They were warned that if additional Shuai supporters wearing the same attire were spotted there would be a “problem.”
“Free speech, this is not,” wrote Anthony Farris, of the Outkick blog. The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club’s actions were “inexcusable,” he added.
Farris further reports that Shuai has not been seen or heard from publicly since December. Free Tibet members raised public awareness about her plight previously at the Australian Open and are now “saying her name” in London.
In one of Shua’s last public comments, she said in a video, “First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important. I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly.” She was living in Beijing without any restrictions, she stated.
Farris believes she was reading a government script and was forced to be a good soldier and retract her accusation. China’s all-powerful dictatorship likely forced her to submit to its autocratic rule. That’s the thinking of many observers.
Regarding the Free Tibet people attending Wimbledon, Will Hoyles gave his side of the story in an interview with the Telegraph Sport. “We were peacefully walking around the grounds, occasionally talking to people about Peng Shuai. We were getting huge support from people around the grounds. At one point security staff started questioning us and when we said we were just talking to people she told us not to approach people and that Wimbledon wants to remain politically neutral.
“Peng Shuai is still not free and WTA agrees,” Hoyles said. “Wimbledon should be speaking out for her release and not trying to stop tennis fans discussing human rights.”
The Wimbledon people acknowledged they spoke to the Free Tibet representatives Monday. “We can confirm that four guests were approached today by security whilst walking outside No. 1 Court. These individuals are now enjoying their day with us and continue to be able to wear their T-shirts. Like much of the tennis community and people around the world more broadly, we remain very concerned for Peng Shuai and we continue to support the WTA’s efforts.”
Nonetheless, Wimbledon officials said they wanted to remain “neutral” in the face of evil. If there was no problem on their part, they would not have singled out those calling attention to China’s human rights abominations. Remaining neutral toward China is giving evil a pass.
Wimbledon officials allowed players to kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter during the 2020 tournament. In a show of inconsistency, fans were called out Monday for showing solidarity with those oppressed by China.
The take-away is this: solidarity with a Marxist organization is good, solidarity with a brutal communist regime is bad.
"It just feels good to know that the First Amendment is alive and well," Joseph Kennedy said after the Supreme Court upheld his First Amendment right to pray after football games. pic.twitter.com/ooXqn9BYiQ— MRCTV (@mrctv) July 3, 2022