Tennis Court: The Women’s Tennis Association has declared that all tennis competitions in China will be suspended due to concerns for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who accused a prominent government official of sexual assault.
Peng’s whereabouts, as a former world No. 1 in doubles, have been a source of international worry for nearly a month, when she vanished after alleged sexual assault by former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.
According to images and recordings supplied by Chinese state media journalists and the tournament’s organisers, she later appeared at a dinner with friends and at a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing around 10 days ago.
The safety of players is a top priority for WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon, according to a statement.
“When Peng Shuai made a sexual assault complaint against a high Chinese government official on November 2, 2021, the Women’s Tennis Association realised that Peng Shuai’s message needed to be heard and taken seriously. “The WTA players, as well as women all throughout the world, deserve nothing less,” Simon remarked.
“From that point on, Peng Shuai highlighted the necessity of speaking up, especially when it comes to sexual assault and when strong people are involved.” ‘Even if it’s like an egg hitting a rock, or if I’m like a moth driven to the flame, inviting self-destruction, I’ll reveal the truth about you,’ Peng wrote in her article. She was well aware of the threats she would face, but she still went public. I respect her bravery and strength.
“Peng’s statement has now been taken down from the internet, and discussion of this vital subject in China has been restricted. Chinese officials have been given the opportunity to end the censorship, demonstrate that Peng is free and able to talk without fear of retaliation and conduct a thorough, impartial, and public investigation into the claim of sexual assault.
“Unfortunately, China’s leadership has failed to address this critical issue in a meaningful manner. While we now know where Peng is, I am sceptical that she is free, safe, and unaffected by censorship, compulsion, or intimidation. The WTA has been clear about what is required here, and we reiterate our appeal for a full and honest investigation into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations, free of censorship.
“None of this is acceptable, and none of it can be made to be acceptable. If influential people can silence women’s voices and push charges of sexual assault under the rug, the WTA’s founding principle of equality for women will suffer a major blow. That is something I will not and cannot allow happen to the WTA and its players.
“As a result, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors. I can’t ask our athletes to participate there in good faith if Peng Shuai isn’t allowed to speak freely and appears to have been forced to refute her sexual assault allegation.
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