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January 27, 2022
On Wednesday, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) suspended all tournaments in Hong Kong and China. The decision to suspend the tournaments came in light of the treatment of tennis player Peng Shuai, according to WTA chair Steve Simon.
The WTA has continually held that the Chinese government’s failure to address Peng’s sexual assault claims is serious issue. Simon said in a statement, “Chinese officials have been provided the opportunity to cease this censorship, verifiably prove that Peng is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and investigate the allegation of sexual assault in a full, fair, and transparent manner.”
He added, “Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, save and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation.
In early November, Peng accused China’s former vice premier of sexual assault. She was not seen in public for several weeks after bringing those accusations to light, and tennis authorities called for a full investigation into her claims.
The state-controlled media in China initially suppressed all reporting about the case and instead released an email allegedly from Peng, indicating her safety. In late November, she held a video conference with the International Olympic Committee, but she still demands a full investigation.
“If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback,” Simon continued. “I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its leaders.”
He also called for continued vigilance from other world leaders: “The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players. As we do so, I hope leaders around the world will continue to speak out so justice can be done for Peng, and all women, no matter the financial ramifications.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE BRIDGE