Women’s tennis tour suspends China events over Peng Shuai concerns

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The head of the women’s professional tennis tour announced on Wednesday that all WTA tournaments in China would be suspended, due to concerns about the safety of Grand Slam doubles champion Peng Shuai, who has accused a former high-ranking government official in that country. was accused of sexual harassment.

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Peng fell out of the public eye after making allegations about former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli in a November 2 social media posting, which was quickly removed.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this serious issue in any credible manner,” WTA President and CEO Steve Simon wrote in a statement distributed by the tour. “While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that he is free, secure, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation.”

Simon reiterated his call for a “full and transparent investigation – without censorship” into Peng’s allegations and took an unusually strong stance against China, which was believed to be the site of several tennis tournaments the following year, including the coveted season-ending WTA Finals. was also involved.

Simon said, “In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask my athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and to deny allegations of sexual harassment.” The pressure has been put on.” “Given the current situation, I am also very concerned about the risks that all our players and staff may face if we hold events in China in 2022.”

Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics starting February 4, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he spoke with Peng over a video call late last month. The IOC did not release a video or transcript of the exchange and only said that Bach said he was fine.

The IOC said in a statement last month that Peng was “doing well” and added that he had requested confidentiality. The IOC did not say how the call was arranged, although it has worked closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee and government officials to organize the upcoming Olympics.

Critics have suggested that Peng would not have called the IOC if she had indeed been free to speak.

Simon said, “If powerful people can stifle women’s voices and press allegations of sexual harassment down the rug, the premise on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – will be dealt a major blow. ” “I will not and will not allow this to happen to the WTA and its players.”

Zhang has retired from the government and has not responded to previous requests for comment on the allegations.

Credit: www.nbcnews.com /

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