The head of women’s professional tennis announced Wednesday that all WTA tournaments will be suspended in China over concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, the Grand Slam doubles champion, who has reported forcing a former high-ranking government official in that country to sexually assault her.
Peng dropped out of public opinion after making accusations about former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli in a November 2 social media post that was quickly taken down by Chinese authorities.
“Unfortunately, leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way,” WTA President and CEO Steve Simon wrote in a statement. by tour. “While we now know where Peng is, I really doubt that she is free, safe, and free from censorship, coercion, and intimidation.”
Simon repeated his call for “a full and transparent – uncensored investigation” into Peng’s allegations and took an unusually strong position against China, which is believed to have hosted several tournaments. tennis next year, including the prestigious end-of-season WTA Finals.
“In good conscience, I do not understand how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to socialize freely and appears to have been pressured to refute the allegations. sexually assaulted her,” said Simon. “Given the current situation, I am also very worried about the risks that all our players and staff may face if we hold events in China in 2022.”
Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics starting on February 4, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said late last month he spoke with Peng on a video call. The IOC did not release a video or transcript of the exchange and only said that Bach had reported she was well.
The IOC said in a statement that Peng appeared to be “doing well” and said she had asked for privacy. The IOC did not explain how the call was arranged, although it has worked closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee and government officials to organize the upcoming Olympics.
Critics argue that Peng would not have called the IOC if she was indeed free to speak.
Simon said: “If those in power can suppress women’s voices and wipe sexual assault allegations under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA is founded – equality for women – will have to be. suffered a big setback. “I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.”
Some of tennis’ biggest names are reacting to the public absence of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and more are speaking out about the situation. Their message comes after Peng posted a now-deleted message on Weibo on November 2, accusing a Chinese government official of sexually assaulting her, according to NBC News.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/sports/womens-tennis-tour-suspends-china-events-over-peng-concerns/3065018/ Women’s tennis tournament suspends events in China due to Peng concerns – NBC10 Philadelphia