Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has insisted she was not mistreated by her country’s national Olympic committee, amid reports she was dropped from her team after being offended by a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
The Rui Bo centre, which hosts a monastery, is one of many temples and shrines in and around Shibuya, a maze of well-known Tokyo attractions popular with many Chinese tourists and expatriates.
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Former Japanese international Wu Dajing, who was inspired to become a Buddhist monk after being haunted by vandals destroying his classroom when he was in secondary school, was heavily criticised in the Chinese media this week for holding up a sign saying: “China has nothing to do with temples – no apology needed.”
Peng has now appeared in front of a TV camera in China saying she was not consulted about this, and believes Wu should apologise. She also added that she had spoken to the Chinese Olympic Committee on Tuesday via telephone for half an hour, the final part of which was recorded.
“It’s not very common for a sportsman to be dropped from his country’s Olympic team,” Peng said. “It’s disappointing for me because I was suffering a lot of problems already this year with my ranking.”
Peng was training in Tokyo on Tuesday, when she said a friend found Wu in an angry mood and received a message from the former tennis star saying he was upset at how to pray. That, she added, upset her, and led to a heated discussion with her coach. She said the Beijing-based coach only listened to her final half-hour of the telephone conversation, and then left the room. She also said the Chinese Olympic Committee told her they did not know the reasons for Wu’s angry mood on Tuesday.
Wu’s English-language editor said on Thursday that the former player was not available to comment.
A spokeswoman for the Chinese Olympic Committee confirmed that they had talked to Peng via telephone and that she was invited to visit the meeting, but she declined to say if she would attend in person.
“The Olympic committee representative said they met with all the Olympic hopefuls about a month ago to ask them all to come,” she said.
The Rui Bo centre hosts the Wuhan Performing Arts Center, a string of shops and a school, and has about 40 monks who consider themselves teachers. Its yoga-style monks wear long white robes and kneel in meditation as they chant.