Front Burner

Where — and how — is Peng Shuai?

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai wasn’t seen or heard from for weeks after her sexual assault allegation against a former senior Chinese official. Now, state-run media are posting pictures and video of her — but even an interview isn’t dispelling fears for her safety.
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs tennis balls at a junior event in Beijing on Sunday. According to the International Olympic Committee, Shuai is safe and living in her Beijing home after disappearing from public view Nov. 2 after she alleged a sexual assault against a former leading Communist Party official. (Twitter/@qingqingparis)

After Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai posted a sexual assault allegation against a former top Communist Party official on social media, the post — and Peng — disappeared. 

In the weeks that followed, the Women's Tennis Association and the sport's top athletes joined the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai, including Naomi Osaka, Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Even the UN called for proof of her safety.

Now, Chinese state-run broadcasters have tweeted a supposed email along with photos and videos as evidence of her safety. The International Olympic committee says it had an interview with Peng where she reassured them of her wellbeing.

Today on Front Burner, Racquet publisher and co-founder Caitlin Thompson explains why China's moves have done little to calm fears for Peng's autonomy, and why this is a crucial moment for sports to re-examine their relationship with China. 

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