Wimbledon 2022: Peng Shuai supporters show up on site, activist says he was interrogated, searched

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Four activists wearing shirts in support of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai were searched and questioned while on the court at the Wimbledon Championships on Monday.

Jason Leith of the Free Tibet organization said he and three colleagues carried “Where is Peng Shuai?” jerseys when they joined the All England Club. He said they were not wearing the shirts when they entered. After taking pictures with a couple of people, Leith said they were stopped by the security guard shortly afterwards.

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From left Protesters Will Hoyles, 39, Caleb Compton, 27, and Jason Leith, 34, who all work for Free Tibet, pose for the media in T-shirt reading "Where is Peng Shuai"at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament in London, Monday, July 4, 2022.

From left Protesters Will Hoyles, 39, Caleb Compton, 27, and Jason Leith, 34, who all work for Free Tibet, pose for the media in T-shirts reading “Where is Peng Shuai” at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament in London , Monday, July 4, 2022.
(Rebecca Speare-Cole / PA via AP)

“We did not wear these when we came in because we were worried about not being locked in. So we put them on and we just walked around and a few people wanted to take selfies with us so we took pictures with people “said Leith.

“(They) started asking, ‘Are you planning to protest directly? Are you planning to disrupt things?’ And then they asked, ‘Oh, would you like to come over here so we can search your suitcases?’

“So then they started going through our bags. I suppose they were looking for flags. They were looking for anything that could be used in any other form of protest.”

Four activists wearing "Where is Peng Shuai?" T-shirts were stopped by the security guard at Wimbledon on Monday and had their bags searched.

Four activists wearing “Where is Peng Shuai?” T-shirts were stopped by the security guard at Wimbledon on Monday and had their bags searched.
(Rebecca Speare-Cole / PA via AP)

Leith said they were allowed to stay on the plot as long as they did not approach anyone to talk about Peng.

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“It’s a little weird. Why can’t we talk to people?” Leith added.

All England Club director Sally Bolton said at the start of the tournament that Peng supporters would be allowed to participate.

“We have ground access rules, and these ground access rules are really focused on everyone’s quiet enjoyment of tennis. So it’s not about what people wear, it’s about the way people behave,” he said. Bolton.

FILE - China's Peng Shuai reacts during his first round of singles against Japanese Nao Hibino at the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, Australia on January 21, 2020.

FILE – China’s Peng Shuai reacts during his first round of singles against Japanese Nao Hibino at the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, Australia on January 21, 2020.
(AP Photo / Andy Brownbill, File)

Peng, who won two Grand Slam doubles titles in his career, disappeared from the public eye for several months last year after accusing former Communist Party official Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Her accusation was deleted from the Internet in China.

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Peng has appeared very few in public since the accusations were made. She performed at the Winter Olympics and spoke to a French newspaper for an interview in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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