Naomi Osaka, the world’s number one tennis player, is the latest athlete to express concern about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s disappearance.
Ms Peng, one of China’s most famous athletes, hasn’t been seen or heard from since she accused a prominent Chinese official of sexual assault.
She is safe and not in any physical danger, according to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
They were unable to communicate with her directly. A lot of tennis players have spoken out in support of Ms Peng.
Novak Djokovic, the world number one tennis player, expressed his dismay earlier this week, saying he hoped she would be okay.
“We are all concerned,” French player Nicholas Mahut added.
In November, Ms Peng, a former world number one tennis doubles player, commented on the Chinese social media site Weibo about the alleged assault against Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. In the post, she said, she was forced into a sexual connection with Mr Zhang.
Between 2013 and 2018, Mr Zhang, 75, was China’s Vice Premier and a close supporter of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He has yet to respond to her allegations.
Her article was then removed from the site, and all references to her on social media were removed. She hasn’t been seen or heard from in public since then.
Steve Simon, the WTA’s Chief Executive, had previously called on Chinese authorities to conduct a “full and transparent inquiry” into Ms Peng’s sexual assault claims.
“We salute Peng Shuai’s extraordinary bravery. Women throughout the world are finding their voices so that injustices can be addressed.”
Mr Simon stated that the WTA had received confirmation of Ms Peng’s safety from many sources, including the Chinese Tennis Association, but that he had not been able to contact her directly.
He told the New York Times, “My understanding is that she is in Beijing, China. But I can’t confirm that since I haven’t spoken directly with her.”
Ms Peng’s claim is the most high-profile example of China’s # MeToo movement, which has mostly gone unnoticed.