Women’s Tennis Association Bans Tournaments in China

The Women’s Tennis Association announced today that all tournaments in China are to be immediately suspended due to continued concern for Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. 

Peng practically vanished from public view three weeks ago after she accused a Chinese government official of sexually assaulting her. 

The head of the WTA, Steve Simon, said that he and the organization still had “serious doubts” that Peng was free and safe, and not being intimidated. Simon said that therefore the WTA cannot ask athletes to compete in competitions in China, for their own safety and security as well. 

China has responded to the immediate suspension, saying that they oppose the “politicization of sports.” In China, news that the WTA has suspended tournaments has been completely censored and removed from the internet.

In the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, the Global Times, the editorial board claimed that the WTA is “betraying the Olympic spirit” and “bringing politics into tennis” by withdrawing from tournaments. 

The WTA has been calling for a full investigation into the sexual assault claims since Peng first spoke out about them. 

Nearly a month ago, Peng posted on Weibo, which is the Chinese version of Twitter, that she had been sexually assaulted by Chinese former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. Peng said that Zhang forced her into sex. The post was removed almost immediately, but not before gaining instant viral status and traction online, making the accusation unable for the Chinese government to silence.

Zhang has not responded to the accusation, nor has anyone in the Chinese government. 

No one had heard from Peng or seen the star in weeks until she said she was “safe and well” through a video call with the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach a couple of weeks ago. Following the posting of the video, the WTA said this was not enough evidence of Peng’s safety, and that they remained greatly concerned. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.