WTA suspends all tournaments in China in response to Peng Shuai affair

The WTA is suspending all its tournaments in China in the wake of the Peng Shuai affair, its president, Steve Simon, announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Together with the WTA Board of Governors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China, including the one in Hong Kong. As a matter of principle, I cannot ask the athletes to perform there when Peng Shuai does not have the opportunity to express himself freely and it seems that she has been forced to contradict his allegations of assault. sexual, ”Simon said in the statement.

“I would have been extremely concerned for the safety of the players and staff of the WTA if we had held tournaments in China in 2022,” he added.

This decision was taken in the aftermath of leaving the European Union, which demanded that China provide “verifiable evidence” that the Chinese tennis player is safe and the establishment of a full investigation and transparent about his allegations of sexual assault.

Worrisome disappearance

Peng, who has competed in the Olympics three times and ranked No. 1 in doubles in the world, was not seen for several weeks after accusing a former top Chinese Communist Party leader of sexual assault.

She has had only a few contacts with people outside of China since she disappeared from the public sphere earlier this month. She told Olympic leaders on a video conference from Beijing on November 21 that she was safe.

“His recent public reappearance in no way alleviates concerns about his security and freedom,” said an EU spokesperson.

Peng alleged online that Gaoli Zhang forced her to have sex three years ago. The post was taken down after just a few minutes, and Peng was not seen in public afterwards.

“The European Union is joining a large international movement, including sports professionals, to demand proof of its freedom and security,” the EU said in a statement. This is why the EU demands that China provide verifiable proof of the safety, well-being and freedom of movement of Peng Shuai. The EU also calls on the Chinese authorities to conduct a full, fair and transparent investigation into his allegations of sexual assault. “

Peng joins growing list of business people, protesters and ordinary citizens of China who have disappeared from public life in recent years after criticizing Party leaders, or during a crackdown campaigns against corruption, pro-democracy or on workers’ rights.

“The EU strongly opposes the practices of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention […] and calls on China to comply with its human rights obligations under national and international laws, ”the organization added.

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