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The Women Tennis Players Association (WTA), the main organization in professional women’s tennis, announced on Wednesday the suspension of tournaments in China, due to the Peng Shuai case. The Chinese tennis player disappeared a few days in early November after accusing a former senior Chinese official of raping her.
We no longer play in China. So decided, Wednesday 1er December, the WTA. In a statement, signed by its president Steve Simon, the association of tennis players, formalizes the suspension of WTA tournaments in the country. The Peng Shuai case, which shook the world of sport in early November, continues to make noise.
“I announce 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 participate in tournaments when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has apparently been pressured to reverse his claims of sexual abuse, “says Steve Simon.
No WTA tournament was scheduled until the end of the year and the 2022 schedule has yet to be released.
“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
On November 2, on the Chinese social network Weibo, Peng Shuai accused former First Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of rape. The 35-year-old tennis player’s post was quickly censored but had time to travel around the world. In the process, Peng Shuai did not give any sign of life for several days. His disappearance caused great concern, and on social networks, many Internet users had asked #WhereIsPengShuai (#WhereIsPengShuai).
WTA worried about risks to all players and staff
Eventually, the Chinese player reappeared in short videos released by Chinese state-run media. On November 21, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said he spoke with her on the phone. Peng Shuai reportedly told him that he was “safe and sound” in his home in Beijing and wanted “his privacy to be respected.”
These statements did not convince the WTA. On November 27, a spokesperson for the association relayed the fears of President Steve Simon. The latter said he remained “deeply worried about Peng’s freedom with regard to any censorship or coercion” and said “not to contact her again via email until he was sure that his answers would be personal and not those. of its censors “.
This 1er December, the WTA therefore decides to act against China. “In view of the current situation of the case, I am also very worried about the risks that all our players and our staff would take if we organize tournaments in China in 2022,” said Steve Simon.
The WTA assures us that it “will do everything possible to protect its players. Along with us, I hope that the leaders of the world will continue to stand up for justice for Peng, and all women, whoever they are. be the financial consequences. “