Ladies’s tennis tour suspends matches in China after alleged Peng Shuai censorship

The Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation won’t maintain any matches in China, Steve Simon, WTA’s chairman and CEO, mentioned Wednesday. Within the assertion, Simon accused China of responding to Peng Shuai’s accusations of sexual assault by a authorities official with “censorship, coercion and intimidation.”

“When on November 2, 2021, Peng Shuai posted an allegation of sexual assault towards a prime Chinese language authorities official, the Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation acknowledged that Peng Shuai’s message needed to be listened to and brought severely,” mentioned Simon. “The gamers of the WTA, to not point out girls world wide, deserve nothing much less.”

Simon wrote that her message was subsequently “faraway from the web” and the topic has been “censored in China.” The affiliation implored Chinese language officers to cease the censorship, show Peng is “free and in a position to converse” and conduct a respectable investigation into her allegations.

“Sadly, the management in China has not addressed this very severe concern in any credible manner,” Simon mentioned.

2020 Australian Open - Day 2
Peng Shuai of China in motion throughout her Ladies’s Singles first spherical match towards Nao Hibino of Japan on day two of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2020, in Melbourne, Australia.

Getty Photographs

After she went public together with her allegations final month, Peng appeared to vanish. U.S. and U.N. officers expressed concern over the tennis star’s wellbeing. Then, a number of weeks later, Peng reappeared in a video and several other pictures posted by native Chinese language retailers. Nonetheless, questions arose from the WTA over whether or not the sightings had been credible, in keeping with the Related Press. In his Wednesday assertion, Simon reiterated the WTA’s suspicions.

“Whereas we now know the place Peng is, I’ve severe doubts that she is free, protected and never topic to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” he mentioned. “The WTA has been clear on what is required right here, and we repeat our name for a full and clear investigation — with out censorship — into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”

The suspension, which has “the complete assist of the WTA Board of Administrators,” contains Hong Kong and is efficient instantly, Simon mentioned.

“In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai shouldn’t be allowed to speak freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” the assertion mentioned. “Given the present state of affairs, I’m additionally vastly involved concerning the dangers that each one of our gamers and workers may face if we had been to carry occasions in China in 2022.”

Within the assertion, Simon mentioned he regrets the affiliation needed to make this choice, however Chinese language officers have “left the WTA with no different selection.”

“I stay hopeful that our pleas will likely be heard and the Chinese language authorities will take steps to legitimately tackle this concern,” he mentioned.

Peng is a three-time Olympian and former Wimbledon champion.

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