WTA SUSPENDS all tennis tournaments in China in support of Peng Shuai amid fears for her safety after she ‘vanished’ following sexual assault allegation against senior politician

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  • WTA chief executive Steve Simon calls for transparent investigation
  • Peng Shuai accuses ex-vice prime minister of China of sexual abuse
  • More than £30million prize money is at jeopardy after the WTA postpones events
  • The country has become a major part of the Women’s Tennis Federation market.
  • The WTA has yet to announce its calendar for the latter half of 2022

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Women’s tennis will unite on Wednesday night to support Peng Shuai by suspending all tournaments in China.

The 2013 Wimbledon doubles champion is under house arrest following allegations of sexual harassment against the former deputy prime minister of China.

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Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Steve Simon issued another strong statement calling for a transparent investigation.

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By postponing events in China, including Hong Kong, the WTA has jeopardized prize money of more than £30 million, as well as large staging fees.

The country has become a big part of their market. In the last scheduled calendar before the pandemic it was due to host 10 events on the WTA Tour, as well as more at the bottom of the circuit.

Women’s tennis unites to support Peng Shuai by suspending all tournaments in China

Peng alleged that senior politician Zhang Gaoli, 40 years his senior, sexually assaulted her in a bedroom of their house while his wife was present.

Peng alleged that senior politician Zhang Gaoli, 40 years his senior, sexually assaulted her in a bedroom of their house while his wife was present.

Women's Tennis Association chief executive Steve Simon calls for transparent investigation

Women’s Tennis Association chief executive Steve Simon calls for transparent investigation

These were approved by Simon and how they will be replaced is not clear. The WTA has yet to announce its calendar for the latter half of 2022, when the vast majority are due.

Simon said he had a ‘serious doubt’ that Peng was ‘free, safe and not subject to intimidation’, adding: ‘As a result, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I announce the immediate suspension of all WTA I am doing Tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.

‘In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask my athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has been pressured to refute his allegations.

‘I am also very concerned about the risks that all our players and staff may face if we hold events in China in 2022.’

Simon said that Peng Shuai’s whereabouts were now known. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the men’s ATP Tour now.

Simon said the whereabouts of 2013 Wimbledon champion Peng Shuai were now known

Simon said the whereabouts of 2013 Wimbledon champion Peng Shuai were now known

Steve Simon’s full statement

When Peng Shuai posted a sexual harassment allegation against a top Chinese government official on November 2, 2021, the Women’s Tennis Association agreed that Peng Shuai’s message was to be listened to and taken seriously. WTA players, not to mention women from all over the world, are nothing less.

From that moment on, Peng Shuai demonstrated the importance of speaking out, especially when it comes to sexual harassment, and especially when powerful people are involved. As Peng put it in his post, ‘Even if it’s like an egg hitting a rock, or if I’m like a moth drawn toward a flame inviting self-destruction, I’m true to you. will tell.’ She knew the dangers she would face, yet she went public. I admire his strength and courage.

Since then, Peng’s message has been taken off the internet and discussion of this serious issue has been censored in China. The Chinese authorities have been provided with the opportunity to end this censorship, to verify verifiable that Peng is independent and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and to make allegations of sexual harassment in a full, fair and transparent manner. Let’s check.

Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that he is free, secure and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. The WTA is clear about what is needed here, and we reiterate our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into the sexual assault allegations of Peng Shuai.

None of this is acceptable nor can it be acceptable. If powerful people can stifle women’s voices and carpet allegations of sexual harassment, the premise on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – will suffer a major setback. I will not and will not allow this to happen to the WTA and its players.

As a result, and 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.

In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask my athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has been pressured to deny his allegation of sexual harassment. . Given the current situation, I am also very concerned about the risks that all our players and staff could face if we hold events in China in 2022.

I am satisfied with the enormous amount of international support the WTA has received for its position on this matter. For the safety of Peng and many other women around the world, it is more important than ever for people to speak up. The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players. As we do this, I hope that leaders around the world will continue to speak up so that justice is done for Peng and all women, whatever the financial implications.

I am very sorry that it has come to this point. Tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are full of great people with whom we have worked for many years. They should be proud of their achievements, hospitality and success. However, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by organizing events in China until China takes the steps we demand. The leaders of China are left with no option but with the WTA. I hope that our arguments will be heard and the Chinese authorities will take steps to resolve this issue legitimately.

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