Peng Shuai case: WTA suspends tennis tournaments in China

WTA President Steve Simon said on Wednesday he had suspended all tournaments in China over concerns over the safety of Chinese player Peng Shuai.

AL BELLO GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / File

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3 min

This is a new twist in the case of Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player whose fate remains as uncertain as ever.

The WTA, the world association of women's tennis, announces the suspension of its tournaments in China.

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The president of the WTA has followed through on his threats.

To protest against the fate reserved for Peng Shuai, Steve Simon is ready to anger Beijing and jeopardize one of its most juicy markets. 

A dozen tournaments, with a total of more than 26 million euros will be suspended, including the end-of-season Masters, in Shenzhen, the most lucrative tournament. 

In a particularly virulent statement, the boss of professional women's tennis explains that it is impossible for him to ask his athletes " 

to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and seems to have been pressured. to come back to his allegations of sexual abuse.

 " 

Steve Simon challenges leaders around the world

Steve Simon also said he was " 

greatly concerned

 " about the risks his tennis players and staff would face if the tournaments were to take place.

The WTA chairman called on " 

world leaders

 " to follow him. 

 The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players,

” he said.

Along with us, I hope world leaders will continue to stand up for justice for Peng and all women, regardless of the financial consequences. 

"

And the WTA does not intend to stop there.

The organization also relaunches its call for a "

 full and transparent investigation into the accusations of sexual assault

 ", formulated by the former world number one in the women's doubles against the former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli.

"Serious doubts"

Peng Shuai, 35, disappeared a few days in November after posting a lengthy message on Chinese social network Weibo in which she accused the former top Communist Party leader, 40 years her senior and retired since, of having abused her. sexually before making her his mistress.

Many stars of world tennis, from Chris Evert to Novak Djokovic, and several Western countries, notably France and the United States, but also the European Union and the United Nations, have asked in diplomatic terms that Beijing shed light. on the fate of Peng Shuai.

The young woman

reappeared

on November 21 in a restaurant in Beijing and during a tennis tournament organized in the Chinese capital, according to videos published by official media, but her case still worries as much.

“ 

Even though we now know Peng's whereabouts, 

” said Steve Simon, “ 

I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion or punishment. bullying.

 "

Beijing's only official reaction to date has been a call by Chinese diplomacy spokesman Zhao Lijian on November 23 to "

 stop deliberately

blaming

this issue for hostile ends, and especially make a political question 

”.

To listen: Peng Shuai case: forced disappearances in China, a well-established system?

[Decryption]

“What a leader!

"

Among the first to react to this decision by the president of the WTA, the Czech Petra Kvitova tweeted an emoji in the form of applause, while the French Alizé Cornet tweeted “

 What a leader!

 ".

What a leader ✊ https://t.co/4nzEE1J6ni

- Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) December 1, 2021

On the men's side, Andy Roddick also spoke out, stressing the risk taken by the WTA boss: “ 

Acting well is much easier when it costs nothing.

Respect.

"

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