WTA suspends all tournaments in China over concerns of Peng Shuai's safety

WTA CEO Steve Simon revealed Wednesday the company is suspending all competitions in China in action to Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s sexual attack claims and subsequent disappearance. Peng has actually been seen in public just when because Nov. 2, when she implicated previous Communist Party leader Zhang Gaoli of pushing her into sex.

The relocation follows years of goodwill and relationship structure in between the WTA and China. China presently hosts 11 WTA competitions and was slated to host the WTA Finals in Shenzhen from 2022-2030. 

Here part of a Simon’s declaration, through WTATennis.com:

“I very much regret it has come to this point. The tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are full of great people with whom we have worked for many years. They should be proud of their achievements, hospitality and success. However, unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China. China’s leaders have left the WTA with no choice. I remain hopeful that our pleas will be heard and the Chinese authorities will take steps to legitimately address this issue.”

Simon, who threatened to pull WTA’s service from China on Nov. 18, did precisely that Wednesday since the nation stopped working to “verifiably prove that Peng is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and investigate the allegation of sexual assault in a full, fair and transparent manner.”

Chinese state media launched video of Peng dining with her buddies and coach in Beijing on Nov. 20. The previous world No. 1 likewise apparently appeared on an IOC video conference a day later on. Chair of the Athletes’ Commission Emma Terho, a member of the four-person IOC video conference, declared Peng was “fine” in a declaration. 

But those looks, which were not public, have not stopped the WTA’s worries about Peng’s security. That triggered Simon to suspend all WTA competitions in China. 

“While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Simon composed. “The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.

“None of this is appropriate nor can it end up being appropriate. If effective individuals can reduce the voices of females and sweep claims of sexual attack under the carpet, then the basis on which the WTA was established – equality for females – would suffer an enormous obstacle. I will not and cannot let that take place to the WTA and its gamers.”

Peng made her allegations in a since-deleted online post to the Chinese social-media site Weibo. But China has denied the allegations and censored the surrounding discussion. Simon believes the country “has actually not resolved this extremely major concern in any reputable method” and does not wish to subject more WTA professional athletes to comparable censorship. 

“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon composed. “Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”

While losing Chinese service will be a monetary hit to the WTA, Simon motivated others to speak up about sexual attack no matter the expense. 

“The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players,” Simon composed. “As we do so, I hope leaders around the world will continue to speak out so justice can be done for Peng, and all women, no matter the financial ramifications.”

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