The tour chairman of WTA, Steve Simon has announced the suspension of all tennis tournaments in China with immediate effect over the sexual assault by a top communist official on Peng Shuai. The WTA has expressed concerns over the safety of the tennis player.
The announcement by Steve Simon was categorical. He ordered an immediate suspension of every tournament in China and Hong Kong.
The WTA has 11 events planned in China this year before COVID-19 forced them to be canceled or relocated. But any resumption of games has not been put on indefinite hold.
WTA chairman Steve Simon confirmed that the decision was forced by the unacceptable Chinese response to the #MeToo issue. The Chinese authorities also rushed to censor Peng Shuai’s allegation and also ignored repeated requests for a transparent and total transparent investigation.
Simon said the Peng Shuai’s case proved that nobody was safe in China
Simon clarified that it would not be in proper conscience to compete in China while Peng Shuai continues to be prevented from free communication. It is apparent that she has been coerced to refute her initial allegation of rape against the Chinese Vice-Premier.
Simon said that under the present circumstances, he was concerned at the risks the players and support staff could confront if any tournaments were held in China next year.
Peng Shuai is China top-ranking tennis star and she has publicly accused Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex and at the vice-premier’s home 3 years ago. Her post has since been deleted. It is not known if she has control over her media account at this stage.
Peng Shuai was immediately stifled by censorship, and she disappeared for more than 2 weeks. Simon said that the WTA wasn’t assured that Peng Shuai was safe and free, and not under coercion, intimidation, or censorship. None of it was acceptable he said.
Novak Djokovic and former tennis great Billie Jean King are among the biggest names in tennis who have come out in support of Peng Shuai.