Tennis tour suspends any play in China over concerns about Peng Shuai
Peng dropped out of public view after raising the allegations about former vice premier Zhang Gaoli in a Nov. 2 social media posting that was quickly taken down by Chinese authorities.
“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way,” WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said. “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 has made repeated calls for what he termed Wednesday a “full and transparent investigation — without censorship” of Peng’s accusations. He said the move to put a halt to his tour’s play in China, including Hong Kong, came “with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors.”
“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 said. “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.”
China typically hosts about 10 women’s tennis tournaments each year, including the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals, which are scheduled to be held there for a decade. The nation is a source of billions of dollars in income for various sports entities based elsewhere, including the WTA (headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida), the NBA (run out of New York) and the International Olympic Committee (Lausanne, Switzerland).