WTA Suspends Tennis Tournaments in China Following Peng Shuai Affair

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Peng Shuai: Chinese Tennis Player Says She’s Safe and Healthy on Video Call but Wants Privacy to Be Respected


WTA suspends tournaments in China over concerns over Peng Shuai’s safety

China says it is “strongly opposed to acts that politicize the sport” after the Women’s Tennis Association suspended all tournaments in the country over concerns of Chinese player Peng Shuai.

The fate of Peng, a former world number 1 doubles player, became a matter of international concern nearly a month ago when she disappeared after allegedly former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had him. sexually assaulted.

His social media post on Chinese site Weibo detailing the allegation has been removed.

The International Olympic Committee said it had set up a video call with Peng on Wednesday and would meet with her in person in January.

IOC President Thomas Bach previously spoke with Peng in a half-hour video conference on November 21. However, the WTA said at the time that the video was “insufficient proof” of his safety.

An IOC statement added Thursday: “There are different ways to achieve your well-being and security. We took a very human and person-centered approach to her situation.

“As she is a three-time Olympian, the IOC is addressing these issues directly with Chinese sports organizations.

“We use ‘quiet diplomacy’ which, given the circumstances and based on the experience of governments and other organizations, is indicated as the most promising way to proceed effectively in such humanitarian matters. “

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WTA chief executive Steve Simon said they had yet to speak to Peng Shuai – and the decision to suspend all tournaments in China cannot be swayed by money or politics.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon said they had yet to speak to Peng Shuai – and the decision to suspend all tournaments in China cannot be swayed by money or politics.

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said he had “serious doubts” that Peng “is free, safe and free from censorship, coercion and intimidation.”

“Unfortunately, the Chinese leadership has not credibly tackled this very serious issue,” Simon said in a statement released by the tour.

“Although we now know Peng’s whereabouts, I seriously doubt that she is free, safe and free from censorship, coercion and intimidation. “

Asked about the matter during a regular briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “We have made our position clear. We are still firmly opposed to acts that politicize sport.

“The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we reiterate our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault charge. “

Roger Federer said last month he was hopeful for positive news about Peng Shuai's fate amid lingering concerns around the world over his safety.

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Roger Federer said last month he was hopeful for positive news about Peng Shuai’s fate amid lingering concerns around the world over his safety.

Roger Federer said last month he was hopeful for positive news about Peng Shuai’s fate amid lingering concerns around the world over his safety.

Photographs and videos posted by Chinese state media reporters and tournament organizers show that prior to the video call with the IOC, Peng appeared at a dinner with friends and at a children’s tennis tournament. in Beijing about 10 days ago.

China was set to be the site of several tennis tournaments next year, including the prestigious WTA season-end finals.

“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 apparently been pressured to contradict his allegation of sexual assault,” Simon said.

In a lengthy statement, Simon added that he was “very concerned” about the risks players and staff could face if events were to take place in China in 2022.

“If powerful people can stifle women’s voices and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the foundation on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer a huge setback,” he said. -he declares.

“I won’t and can’t let this happen to the WTA and its players. “

The suspension also includes tournaments in Hong Kong.

Simon added, “I remain hopeful that our appeals will be heard and that the Chinese authorities will take steps to legitimately address this problem. “

In an interview with NBC NewsSimon said he did not believe the two emails the organization had received so far from Peng regarding his welfare and safety were genuine.

“My opinion is that they were orchestrated,” he said.

ATP President Andrea Gaudenzi said the situation involving Peng continues to cause concern within tennis and beyond.

« The response to these concerns has so far been insufficient, ”he said. “We again urge an open direct line of communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.

“We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance to create opportunities and make an impact.

“We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves. “

“WTA forces Peng to suspend tournament in China”

China’s editor World time The newspaper accused the WTA of “forcing” Shuai to “support the West’s attack” on China by suspending tournaments in the country.

Hu Xijin has been outspoken about the scandal involving Peng and his sexual assault charge, even as Beijing has remained largely silent and authorities have blocked internet discussions in China.

“The WTA is forcing Peng Shuai to support the West’s attack on the Chinese system. She is depriving Peng Shuai of her freedom of speech, demanding that her description of her current situation meet their expectations, ”Hu said on his official Twitter account in an article that quoted the WTA announcement.

The WTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hu’s Twitter post, which is blocked in China.

The World time is published by the People’s Daily of the ruling Communist Party.

Hu, a prominent state media reporter, used Twitter to actively comment on the scandal and was one of the first to post pictures and videos of her appearances, serving as a de facto messenger to the outside world.

He said those appearances by Peng should have been enough to ease or eliminate most of the player’s worries, but that people were “aimed at attacking the Chinese system and boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics.”

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