HONG KONG—Beijing has turned to a familiar playbook to deflect criticism and minimize discussion in China about a tennis star, analysts and rights activists say, as it faces global questions about sexual-assault allegations against a retired senior Communist Party official.

The Chinese government and social-media companies have heavily censored discussions within the country about three-time Olympian Peng Shuai, while Chinese state-media journalists have released photos and videos on Twitter —a platform blocked in China—that are meant to attest to Ms. Peng’s well-being.