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WTA suspends tournaments in China over Peng Shuai concerns | Tennis News

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) drew criticism on Thursday from China for its determination to droop all tournaments in the Asian nation out of concern for the well-being of star participant Peng Shuai and the security of different gamers.

Unconvinced by Peng’s public appearances since a scandal broke a month in the past over her sexual assault accusations in opposition to Chinese former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, the WTA stated it wished assurances of her wellbeing and has sought an investigation.

Its determination comes as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February. Global rights teams and others have referred to as for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics over China’s human rights document.

Many main figures in the tennis world applauded the U.S.-headquartered tour’s determination to stroll away from one among its largest markets, although it might value the WTA a whole lot of tens of millions of {dollars} in broadcasting and sponsorship income.

“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,” WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon stated in an announcement.

“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.”

Asked concerning the matter at an everyday briefing in Beijing on Thursday, international ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin didn’t immediately touch upon the WTA’s transfer however stated China “opposes the politicisation of sports”.

Telephone calls to the organisers of the China Open match went unanswered.

The whereabouts of Peng, a former world primary doubles participant, grew to become a matter of worldwide concern https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/china-editor-says-he-does-not-think-peng-faces-retribution-2021-11-19 following a virtually three-week public absence after she posted a message on social media in early November accusing Zhang of sexual assault.

Neither Zhang, who retired in 2018, nor the federal government have commented on Peng’s accusation and the subject has been blocked from direct dialogue on China’s closely censored web.

Although Beijing has remained largely silent over the scandal and authorities have blocked discussions of the subject on China’s closely censored web, the Global Times newspaper printed by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, took goal on the WTA on Thursday.

In an editorial on its Twitter account, which isn’t accessible inside China, the paper accused the WTA of “bringing politics into women’s tennis”, categorising it amongst “betrayers of the Olympic spirit”.

The English-language tabloid added, “Some forces in the West are instigating a boycott against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics,” and referred to as the WTA.

The International Olympic Committee stated it held a second video name with Peng on Wednesday, after one late final month.

“We have offered her wide-ranging support, will stay in regular touch with her, and have already agreed on a personal meeting in January,” it stated in an announcement on Thursday.

Peng seemed to be “safe and well, given the difficult situation she is in,” it added.

‘SERIOUS DOUBTS’

Peng, a three-time Olympian, appeared in mid-November at a dinner with associates and a kids’s tennis match in Beijing, pictures and movies printed by Chinese state media and by the match’s organisers confirmed.

On Nov. 21, IOC President Thomas Bach had a 30-minute video name https://www.reuters.com/world/china/tennis-peng-shuai-appears-china-tennis-event-organiser-photos-show-2021-11-21 with Peng, throughout which she informed him she was secure.

But Simon, who stated the choice to droop tournaments in China had the complete help of the WTA’s board of administrators, stated they weren’t satisfied all was effectively 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,” stated Simon.

“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.”

Simon stated the Peng state of affairs demanded a response.

“If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen,” he added.

‘RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY’

Tennis nice and founding father of the WTA Billie Jean King was amongst those that applauded the announcement.

“The WTA has chosen to be on the right side of history in defending the rights of our players,” King stated in an announcement. “This is yet another reason why women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports.”

Martina Navratilova additionally signalled her help on Twitter, suggesting the IOC “take note”.

Men’s world primary Novak Djokovic, who lately co-founded a gamers’ union aiming to characterize each female and male professionals, additionally backed the transfer.

“I support fully WTA’s stance because we don’t have enough information about Shuai Peng and her well-being,” the Serbian stated after a Davis Cup tie in Madrid. “It’s life of a tennis player that is in question here, so we, as the tennis community, need to stand together.”

The United States Tennis Association counseled the WTA.

“This type of leadership is courageous and what is needed to ensure the rights of all individuals are protected and all voices are heard,” the physique stated in an announcement.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and males’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

China’s ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui, responded on Twitter with a single phrase: “Posturing?”

AGGRESSIVE EXPANSION

Simon had beforehand stated the WTA would shut down its operations in China if it was not happy with the response to the allegations.

The WTA started an aggressive growth into China on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and native curiosity in the game was fuelled by Li Na profitable the 2011 French Open.

China hosted simply two WTA occasions in 2008 however 11 years later was staging 9, together with the WTA Tour finals which had been secured in a 10-year deal by the town of Shenzhen in 2018.

In 2015, the WTA introduced a 10-year digital rights take care of Chinese streaming platform iQiyi reportedly value $120 million.

The pandemic compelled the cancellation of all however one of many WTA occasions in China in 2020 and 2021, together with this year’s Tour Finals which had been moved to Mexico.

The 2022 tour calendar has not but been printed.

“Unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China,” Simon stated on Wednesday.

“China’s leaders have left the WTA with no choice. I remain hopeful that our pleas will be heard and the Chinese authorities will take steps to legitimately address this issue.”

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