WTA Suspends All Events In China Over Concern For Peng Shuai

by Staff | December 1st, 2021, 8:28 pm
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The WTA took a bold move suspending all their events in China for 2022 until the Peng Shuai situation is resolved.

The Chinese star who was a former No. 1 in doubles has largely been missing from the public spotlight since revealing a sexual allegation against a government official a month ago.

The WTA has almost a dozen events in the region including the year-end finals which were moved to Mexico this year due to the pandemic. However, the tour is willing to skip those events for a third straight year, which would cost the tour more millions in revenue.

“None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement today. “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 to the WTA and its players.

“As a result, and 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. In good conscience, 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. 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.

“I very much regret it has come to this point. The tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are full of great people with whom we have worked for many years. They should be proud of their achievements, hospitality, and success. However, unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China. 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.”

Speaking in Madrid after his Davis Cup win, Novak Djokovic commented on the situation.

“I support fully the WTA’s stance because we don’t have enough information about Peng Shuai and her well-being,” Djokovic said Wednesday.

“I think the position of the WTA is very bold and very courageous.”

Billie Jean King also supported the move in a tweet.

“I applaud Steve Simon & the @WTA leadership for taking a strong stand on defending human rights in China & around the world. The WTA is on the right side of history in supporting our players. This is another reason why women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports,” she posted in twitter.

The ITF and the ATP will likely follow suit, though neither are as heavily entrenched in China as the WTA.

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