The head of the Women's Tennis Association questioned Wednesday's authenticity of an email written by Peng Shuai, a Chinese athlete who has not appeared in public since writing on his social media page making allegations of sexual harassment by a former United States top official. Chinese Communist Party.
A spokesman for the organization, Steve Simon, said in a statement that the e-mail, sent to his organization and published on Twitter by the Chinese government-controlled English-language news channel, expressed "concerns about its safety and whereabouts."
"I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or that he believes what he is supposed to have done," Simon said, adding that the world needs "independent and convincing proof that it is safe."
"I have tried many times to find him through many means of communication, but to no avail," he said.
The email, which started from Peng, said he was not at home or unsafe, at home and at rest. The email was not independently verified or reviewed by NBC News.
The email also criticized the Women’s Tennis Association for releasing what it called unconfirmed information about Peng without her consent, saying allegations of sexual harassment were untrue.
The email came as Naomi Osaka joined a growing number of tennis players and officials seeking answers about the 35-year-old star.
Osaka, the former Japanese number one, posted a message Tuesday under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai, widely circulated on social media.
“Censorship has never been good in any way. I hope Peng Shuai and his family are safe and sound, ”wrote Osaka. "I am shocked by the current situation and send love and lighten his path."
Novak Djokovic of the men said on Monday the situation was "shocking" and he could not "imagine how his family was feeling."
Osaka, who was spotted playing in Australia in February, has previously spoken about Black Lives Matter and mental health.D Daniel Pockett / Getty Images File
Peng is one of China's biggest tennis stars in recent years. He is the former No. 1 double world champion who won double titles at Wimbledon and the French Open in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Allegations published earlier this month on the account of Peng's Weibo, a Chinese social networking site such as Twitter, accuse Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister of the 70's, of sexually abusing him while in office.
Message sent to Weibo on Nov. 2 was immediately removed, and any online debate was dismissed by government inspectors who blocked a list of related search terms.
Chinese officials did not respond to a request for comment this month when the allegations were made, and the Foreign Ministry did not respond on Wednesday. Zhang, who retired in 2018 and is no longer in the public eye, could not be reached for comment.
When asked about Peng at a daily press conference on Thursday, Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied: "This is not a question of officials and I do not know the situation you have mentioned."