Yi-Fan Xu’s return to the United States for the China Open has been postponed, less than a month after the world number 31 was found to be missing, and many Chinese citizens and tennis stars are calling for her to be reinstated.
Chinese Tennis Federation chief Li Yongfu issued a statement in support of the US Open and the world number one, and said officials would continue to pursue the case.
With China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Mexico all taking part in the China Open, many countries have not yet decided whether to send their women to China for the event. Despite China’s intimidation capabilities, few dare go beyond them.
In 2015, Taiwanese player Michael Zhang was also found to be missing on the ATP circuit, prompting the participation of players from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea in the China Open. Zhang has since become the first two-time recipient of the Tenacious China award, awarded by the FIA for the tenacity he exhibits in playing in tournaments outside of China.
Many Chinese athletes, including #1 male Roger Federer, have come out in support of Xu, sending her email addresses to bring attention to her disappearance.