French Open: Osaka backs Peng Shuai after Chinese criticism

Peng Shuai defeated Swiss player Belinda Bencic in straight sets on Thursday

Naomi Osaka has spoken of her support for Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai following comments by the Chinese national Olympic Committee that were said to be ‘against humanity’.

A foreign ministry spokesman said that Peng is “suspected of incitement of ethnic hatred and violence” and should be banned from international competition.

Last month the 26-year-old was sentenced to four years in prison for defaming Buddhism.

Peng did not make any public comments following the National People’s Congress’s comments but Japan’s Osaka, 20, has.

“Of course that was against our own country, it should be a shock to everyone,” said Osaka.

“Of course I want to tell her that no, it wasn’t just us, I think it was a lot of different athletes.”

The US Open semi-finalist added that she was “sure it’s disappointing for her to have this”.

Peng won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics before missing last year’s Rio Olympics after being part of the China team convicted of match-fixing in February 2016.

“I just hope for the best and try to focus on the tennis instead of the politics,” said Peng after dispatching Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4 on Thursday in the last 64 of the French Open.

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