Wimbledon security ‘threaten to call police’ on Where Is Peng Shuai? protesters

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A protester holding a sign and wearing a T-shirt reading ‘where is Peng Shuai’ (PA) (PA Wire)
A protester holding a sign and wearing a T-shirt reading ‘where is Peng Shuai’ (PA) (PA Wire)

Where Is Peng Shuai protesters have claimed that security staff at Wimbledon threatened to call the police on them.

The two protesters arrived at the south London championship on Friday to raise awareness for the Chinese tennis player.

The former Wimbledon doubles champion disappeared from public view last year after she accused a senior Chinese official of sexual assault in November 2021.

Dave Pavlou, who led the campaign at the Australian Open and flew to the UK just to share the message at Wimbledon, was wearing a Where Is Peng Shuai? T-shirt And holding a sign with the same message.

Meanwhile, Caleb Compton, 27, from the Free Tibet campaign, was in plain clothes and documenting the protest on his phone.

A member of the security staff was seen talking to the two protesters by the big screens on No. 1 Court in front of the hill, while other security personnel could be seen standing nearby.

Mr Pavlou told the PA news agency: “They threatened to call the police on me.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon said the protesters were not threatened with arrest.

A protester holding a sign and wearing a T-shirt reading ‘where is Peng Shuai’ (PA) (PA Wire)
A protester holding a sign and wearing a T-shirt reading ‘where is Peng Shuai’ (PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Pavlou said security took issue with the message being “political”, and they asked him to put down the sign.

He said: “I don’t think this is a political statement. I don’t think it is a divisive statement. It’s a humanitarian message and I just want more people to see it.”

Speaking about the group of security standing nearby, he said: “I think they’re trying to intimidate me, they are trying to scare me.

“I’m not disrupting anyone, I’m a completely peaceful protester, I’m not disrupting any of the matches, I’m not disrupting any spectators, I’m not even yelling, I’m literally standing here with a sign saying Where Is Peng Shuai?”

“This is a humanitarian statement,” he added.

Mr Pavlou claimed that when he told the security staff that he did not believe it was a political statement, the man said: “The Chinese government say it’s a political statement.”

Later, one of the security staff approached the pair again and said Mr Pavlou would be able to hold the sign on the grounds but not on the hill or the courts because of the club’s policy against the size of banners and flags.

But Mr Pavlou then moved to a different area of the hill, arguing again that he is a “peaceful protester”.

He later said he is “disappointed in Wimbledon’s reaction today to our peaceful protest”.

“We remain defiant and we refuse to be bullied by Wimbledon security or any of their Chinese sponsors,” he said.

It comes after Mr Compton and three others said they were “harassed” by security when they turned up to protest in the T-shirts on Monday.

At the time, an All England Club spokesperson confirmed that security approached the group outside No. 1 Court and that the individuals were then left to “enjoy their day” and wear their T-shirts.

Responding to the two protesters on Friday, they said: “As is entirely in keeping with our security protocols and ‘Conditions of Entry’, a guest holding a banner was approached by security colleagues to discuss their intentions.

“They were not threatened with arrest and continue to enjoy their day with us on the grounds.

“Like much of the tennis community and people around the world more broadly, we remain very concerned for Peng Shuai and we continue to support the WTA’s efforts.”

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