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Tennis: WTA suspends tournaments in China over Peng Shuai situation

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced on Wednesday, December 1, that it has decided to suspend tournaments in China due to concerns over the safety of former doubles world number one Peng Shuai. The player’s whereabouts became a matter of international concern after her entry on social media, alleging that China’s former deputy PM had sexually assaulted her.

“I do not 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,” Steve Simon, WTA Chief Executive, said in a statement.

“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.”

"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."

— wta (@WTA) December 1, 2021

The whereabouts of Peng became a matter of international concern for nearly three weeks after she posted a message on social media alleging that Zhang Gaoli, China’s former deputy Prime Minister, had sexually assaulted her.

On November 21, Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had a 30-minute video call with Peng – a three-time Olympian who supporters say may be under political duress – during which she told him she was safe and with family and friends.

But Mr Simon, who said the decision to suspend tournaments in China had the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, is not convinced all is well with Peng.

“While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” he said, stressing that “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.”


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