The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said on Wednesday that it decided to suspend tournaments in China due to concerns about the safety of former doubles world number one Peng Shuai.
“I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has apparently been pressured to contradict her accusation of sexual assault,” WTA Executive Chairman Steve Simon said in a statement. .
“Given the current state of affairs, I am also very 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
Peng’s whereabouts became a matter of international concern for nearly three weeks after she posted a message on social media alleging that China’s former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.
On November 21, IOC President Thomas Bach held 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 secure. family and friends.
But Simon, who said that the decision to suspend tournaments in China had the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, is not convinced that 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,” Simon said.
“The WTA has been clear about what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation, without censorship, into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault charge.”