Tennis Australia is standing by its decision to order an Australian Open spectator to remove a shirt that featured a message in support of Peng Shuai amid ongoing concerns for the Chinese tennis star's welfare.
Over the weekend, footage emerged of security and police at the Australian Open requesting a spectator remove her shirt, which featured an image of Peng on the front and the message "Where Is Peng Shuai?" on the back.
The video ends with police saying that Tennis Australia was permitted to confiscate any paraphernalia that referenced Peng.
Tennis Australia told News Corp Australia that it feared for Peng's safety but that fans were not permitted to make political statements with their clothing at the Australian Open.
"Under our ticket conditions of entry we don't allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political," a Tennis Australia spokesperson said.
"Peng Shuai's safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing."
Victoria Police told News Corp Australia it was aware of "a small number of protesters" outside the Australian Open.
"As part of the conditions of entry to the Open, nothing politically motivated can be displayed," a police spokesperson told News Corp.
"Police engaged with the patrons in support of security, referencing the conditions of entry as they exited the venue."
A GoFundMe page seeking to distribute Peng Shuai shirts at the Australian Open raised $6,500 within 24 hours of being uploaded this weekend.
In November, Peng, 36, made a social media post that accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her in 2017.
"Why did you come and look for me again, take me to your house, and force me into sex? I have no proof, and it would be impossible for me to keep any evidence. You denied everything afterwards," Peng is quoted as having written.
The post was deleted within half an hour and Shuai was not heard from for weeks afterwards, prompting #WhereisPengShuai to trend on Twitter.
In December, Peng resurfaced and denied having claimed she was sexually assaulted in an interview with a Singaporean network.
The tennis community has continued to express its concern for Peng's welfare during the Australian Open.
"Hopefully it's not too long until we see her back out here," said Australian world number one Ash Barty after her win on Wednesday.
Nick Kyrgios said he believed the situation "obviously" required attention.
"Obviously if that's still something that's ongoing it needs to be found out and kind of, I guess, we need more awareness about it. We can't forget about her," Kyrgios said.
"We have to use our platforms as athletes. I think we're obligated to do that, we're obligated to speak up and, you know, get to the root of what's happening and why it's happening."
Victoria Azarenka, a member of the WTA Player Council, said she had not heard from Peng directly.
"There hasn't been that much development in terms of contact with Peng Shuai even though from our side we will continue to make any and all efforts to make sure that she is safe, she feels comfortable," Azarenka said.
"Hopefully we will get to hear from her personally at some point. I think that's the goal, the main goal right now."
Sexual harm - Where to get help
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
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