ITF Will Not Cancel Tournaments in China Over Peng Shuai

The International Tennis Federation said it will not be canceling tournaments in China over global concerns for Peng Shuai. The ITF, which is the governing body for tennis, said it does not want to “punish 1.4 billion people” by canceling tournaments in China. 

The IFT’s stance goes against international concerns for the wellbeing of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, with the world calling for the IFT to join the Women’s Tennis Association in suspending all tournaments in China. 

The WTA suspended tournaments in China over the government’s continuing refusal to assure that Peng is safe, well, and not being intimidated or silenced. 

Peng was the former world doubles champion and had not been seen or heard from for weeks after she accused the former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault. Peng posted an essay on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo, which was taken down within half an hour, but not before it went viral. 

The WTA and others globally demanded that Chinese authorities investigate the allegations, as well as provide assurance that she was well. The WTA said that the Chinese government has failed on all accounts, with chief executive Steve Simon announcing that it would therefore suspend all tournaments in the country until the demands are well and fully met. 

IFT President David Haggerty said that the allegations while needing to be looked into, would not mean that they will be following the WTA decision. 

Peng’s allegations have shown extreme censorship in China. Online censorship is common in China, with Peng’s post being taken down offline almost instantly, as well as an online restriction against mentioning any words or hashtags related to the allegations. Those looking to contact Peng, including the WTA, were unable to for weeks. 

Following growing outrage and demand for Peng’s location and wellbeing, photos and videos of Peng were released only on China’s state media, stating to prove that she was well. But the WTA said this only increased their concerns. A video meeting also happened between Peng and the International Olympic Committee, but this too failed to reassure anyone.

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