Women’s Tennis Association shelves all tournaments in China amid Peng considerations

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended all tournaments in China amid considerations for the welfare of Chinese player, Peng Shuai. According to an AFP report, Steve Simon from the WTA says the tournaments, together with those deliberate for Hong Kong, can’t go ahead whereas Peng is unable to talk freely. The Winter Olympics are because of take place in Beijing in February.
“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai isn’t allowed to speak freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault.”

Peng disappeared for 2 weeks after alleging she was sexually abused for years by Zhang Gaoli, a former senior official in the governing Chinese Communist Party. The allegation, which appeared on social media, has now been deleted. Since then, Peng has re-appeared in public and has had a video name with Thomas Bach from the International Olympic Committee. However, Simon does not believe she was talking freely on that call, during which she insisted she was protected and well and wished her privacy revered.
“While we now know the place Peng is, I truly have severe doubts that she is free, safe, and never topic to censorship, coercion, and intimidation. None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If highly effective individuals can suppress the voices of girls and sweep allegations of sexual assault underneath the rug, then the premise on which the WTA was based – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback.”

Simon has welcomed the help of the European Union, the United Nations, the US, and the UK, all of whom have called on the Chinese authorities for more proof that Peng is not being censored or intimidated. Meanwhile, according to the AFP report, the International Tennis Federation says it understands why the WTA had to take the stance it has.
“The WTA has stood firm and true to its values from the start and we understand their decision. Improved will proceed to carefully monitor the situation.”

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