Peng Shuai’s supporters won a small victory as Tennis Australia reversed its ban on “Where is Peng Shuai?” T-shirts at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park yesterday, thanks to fans and supporters of the alleged victim of Chinese communist persecution.
Miss Peng is the Chinese tennis star whose safety and indeed freedom have been at issue since last November, when she posted an accusation of sexual assault against a top Chinese Communist Party official (and his wife, in a sicko Jeffrey Epstein–Ghislaine Maxwell twist). She retracted the accusation in an interview with a CCP-friendly Singapore Chinese language newspaper, but Miss Peng has not been seen let alone interviewed by any other Free World–based journalists or by officials of the Women’s Tennis Association, of which Miss Peng is a member.
The Free-Peng T-shirts were forbidden by Tennis Australia last week on the grounds they infringed on its “no politics or commercial publicity” rule. Facing a crowd-funding campaign to buy thousands of T-shirts for free distribution to spectators, Tennis Australia backed down while insisting on its rule against large banners.
The persecution of Peng Shuai, alarming in and of itself though still unverified, represents the widespread repression throughout Communist-controlled mainland People’s Republic of China. Tennis Australia’s uncertain response to fan support for a tennis player who may be under house arrest or worse for exposing the ruling regime’s moral turpitude and contempt for due process calls into question Western — and other — relations with the PRC.
Defense strategists, as well as human rights observers and people of common decency, consider that the Free World must ask itself whether, since the opening of Red China to international commerce in the 1990s, they have averted their eyes from mass slavery for a mess of porridge and cheap goods that range from computers to sneakers, slippers, machine products, tennis balls, and more. With calls to boycott the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing and growing alarm at PCR military threats directed at Taiwan and beyond (including Australia), the China Question, conveniently buried during three decades of globalist baloney, resurfaces.
In context, with sports behemoths like the NBA and the International Olympic Committee pretending that nothing is the matter and billion-dollar deals with the Chicoms are good for business, Tennis Australia can be excused if it finds itself navigating without a moral compos, I mean compass.
The strategic and moral confusion came, moreover, in the midst of chronic uncertainty on managing travel during the COVID-19 epidemic, the investigation into whose possible origins in a Wuhan laboratory the Chinese communist authorities have been reluctant to assist.
Tennis Australia had to scramble to recover from the last-minute uproar when federal border authorities upset their assurances to the No. 1 tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, that he could enter the country and compete in Melbourne Park without a COVID-19 vaccination.
In the best tradition of bread-and-circuses, they were saved by the fantastic play on display on the courts from the first day, notably the fine run by Miss Ashleigh Barty, who, if she makes it through the semis in a few hours, has a shot at being the first Aussie to win their home slam since the 1970s.
Also helping has been the splendid play of two Aussie men’s doubles teams, Matthew Ebden–Max Purcell and Nick Kyrgios–Thanasi Kokkinakis, both of whom are in the semis and could be facing off in the finals.
The “Special K” unit has been especially entertaining with fabulously entertaining play that evokes the disciplined abandon (permit the oxymoron but it is apt) of Steph Curry in basketball, but the Kyrgios half of it, frustrated at missing a first serve, smashed a dead ball into a little kid, who burst into tears, though he was not reported to have been injured physically.
Kyrgios by the evidence was contrite and gave the child his racquet and all was well again. The Special K went on to win the match, to the home crowd’s roaring applause. One of the players on the losing side, New Zealander Michael Venus, called Kyrgios an amazing player but an “absolute knob … with the maturity of a 10-year old.” Like other opponents the young Australians have beaten, Venus denounced their unsportsmanlike behavior, in particular egging the audience to yell during their opponents’ service tosses. In baseball, you can yell all you want when the pitcher is winding up, but in tennis, verbal distraction by players or spectators when the ball is in play is not permitted.
Under International Tennis Federation rules, the umpire could have ruled that Kyrgios and Kokkinakis were interfering with their opponents by way of crowd manipulation and this could have cost them points, even games, if they persisted. As to hitting a spectator with a dead ball, the penalty is the whole match.
Novak Djokovic, who hit a lineswoman with a dead ball during the 2020 U.S. Open, received such a penalty. He and Kyrgios have expressed contempt for each other often, though, in the case of the confused rulings and counter-rulings over Djokovic’s medical exemption, Kyrgios was one of the few players who stated the defending champ should be allowed to compete. As it happens, several non-COVID-vaccinated players were allowed in the draw on the same medical exemption grounds that Tennis Australia assured Djokovic would work for him.
How long can center court hold in a world with moving rules? Well, Daniil Medvedev held off a sensational charge by Canadian phenom Félix Auger-Aliassime in a quarterfinal match that took almost five hours. And this was after another five-set epic match between Rafael Nadal and another young Canadian, Denis Shapovalov, in the same round. It was marred briefly by — what else? — Shapovalov’s angry complaint that Nadal was taking more time between points than the rules permit.
Fine tennis, if you can stick to it.