WTA SUSPENDS all tennis tournaments in China in support of Peng Shuai amid fears for her safety after she ‘vanished’ following sexual assault allegation against senior politician
Women’s tennis united on Wednesday night to support Peng Shuai by suspending all tournaments in Sjina.
Die 2013 Wimbledon doubles champion appears to be under house arrest after making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier.
Steve Simon, chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), issued another robust statement calling for a transparent investigation.
By suspending events in China, insluitend Hongkong, the WTA have put in jeopardy more than £30million of prize money, plus large staging fees.
The country has become a huge part of their market. In the last scheduled calendar prior to the pandemic it was due to host 10 events on the WTA Tour, plus more on the lower rungs of the circuit.
Women’s tennis has united to support Peng Shuai by suspending all tournaments in China
Peng alleged that senior politician Zhang Gaoli, 40 jaar haar senior, sexually assaulted her in a bedroom at his house, while his wife was present
Steve Simon, chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, called for a transparent investigation
These were sanctioned by Simon and how they will be replaced is unclear. The WTA have yet to announce their calendar for the latter part of 2022, which is when the vast majority are due to take place.
Simon said he had ‘serious doubts’ that Peng was ‘free, safe and not subject to intimidation’, toevoeging: 'As gevolg daarvan, and with the full support of the WTA board of directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.
‘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.
‘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.’
Simon did say that the whereabouts of Peng Shuai are now known. It will now be interesting to see the reaction of the men’s ATP Tour.
Simon did say that the whereabouts of 2013 Wimbledon champion Peng Shuai are now known
STEVE SIMON’S FULL STATEMENT
When on November 2, 2021, Peng Shuai posted an allegation of sexual assault against a top Chinese government official, the Women’s Tennis Association recognized that Peng Shuai’s message had to be listened to and taken seriously. The players of the WTA, not to mention women around the world, deserve nothing less.
From that moment forward, Peng Shuai demonstrated the importance of speaking out, particularly when it comes to sexual assault, and especially when powerful people are involved. As Peng said in her post, ‘Even if it is like an egg hitting a rock, or if I am like a moth drawn to the flame, inviting self-destruction, I will tell the truth about you.’ She knew the dangers she would face, yet she went public anyway. I admire her strength and courage.
Sedertdien, Peng’s message has been removed from the internet and discussion of this serious issue has been censored in China. Chinese officials have been provided the opportunity to cease this censorship, 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.
Ongelukkig, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. 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 acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.
As gevolg daarvan, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.
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. 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.
I have been gratified by the massive amount of international support the WTA has received for its position on this matter. To further protect Peng and many other women throughout the world, it is more urgent than ever for people to speak out. The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players. 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.
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. Egter, 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.