• News Tennis stars applaud suspension of tournaments in China over Peng Shuai's situation

  • Tennis The WTA suspends its tournaments in China due to the Peng Shuai case

The American writer

Michael Schuman

, who has lived between

China

and

Southeast Asia for

almost three decades

, explains that the first rule of thumb for doing business in the Asian giant is not to criticize its government. "

Your bureaucrats have life or death power over a business

. Why risk losing the riches of your vast market? Above all, avoid anything politically sensitive," Schuman recommends.

The rule has been adhered to at the foot of the script for years by many international multinationals and sports organizations that fatten their annual accounts by holding competitions in the second largest world economy. But now an American named

Steve Simon

, the head of the

women's tennis

governing body

, has appeared to say that until the media case of the Chinese tennis star who accused a former deputy prime minister of sexual abuse is resolved, there will be no more. women's tennis tournaments in China.

"The tough stance of the WTA has been characterized as a flagrant exception," says Schuman. The

WTA

is the

Women's Tennis Association

, chaired by Simon and to which

Peng Shuai

belongs

, a three-time Olympic champion in doubles, winner in that discipline at

Wimbledon

and

Roland Garros

, and the author of a censored letter in China denouncing the abuse of the that he was one of the most powerful men in the Asian country.

What happened with Peng has pushed Simon, a boss used to pulling the strings behind the prominence of the players, to become the center of attention.

"

I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete in China

when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has apparently been pressured to contradict her accusation of sexual assault," Simon said in a statement on Wednesday.

Millions in losses

If the WTA finally pulls out of China, it could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship. Although, in the absence of knowing the

2022 calendar

, the events of 2021 had already been canceled previously due to the restrictions of the pandemic in a country that has had its borders closed since March of last year and that requires a three-week quarantine. to all incoming travelers.

Before the

2008 Beijing Olympics

, China hosted only two

WTA

events

. More than a decade later, it hosts nine. The organization has a circuit of women's tournaments in the cities of

Beijing, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Nanchang, Tianjin and Hong Kong

. With Shenzhen, the Asian Silicon Valley, he signed an agreement in 2018 to host different end-of-season events over 10 years, in which there would be more than 150 million dollars in prizes. And we must not forget the juicy agreement he reached with the Chinese platform

iQiyi

, to which he transferred the broadcasting rights in exchange for

120 million

.

"I am very sorry that things have reached this point. There are many prominent talents in the tennis industry in China and Hong Kong who have worked with us for many years. However,

unless the action we require is taken, we cannot hold matches in China

, which puts our players and staff at risk. Chinese leaders give the WTA no other option, "Simon said in a statement insisting that the authorities in the Asian country investigate Peng's allegations. Shuai.

A strange story

On November 21, after almost

three weeks of no news

after publishing her letter, the tennis player made her first public appearance during the opening ceremony of the final of a youth tennis tournament in Beijing.

Before the end of the day, the

International Olympic Committee

(IOC) reported that its president, Thomas Bach, had spoken with her through a half-hour video call, and that the tennis player was well and asked that her privacy be respected.

There were images of Peng and Bach smiling behind a screen

.

But Simon, who said that the decision to suspend tournaments in China had the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, said they were not convinced that everything was okay with Peng.

For years, the IOC has been carrying

accusations of complicity with the authorities of the communist regime

. Coincidentally, the senior official named in the athlete's letter, Zhang Gaoli, was the link and key figure in making Beijing the host of the next Winter Olympics, which will begin next February. The then Deputy Prime Minister Zhang (76 years old), appointed head of a working group on the

Beijing Games

, received Bach five years ago to coordinate the preparatory work for the event.

Regarding the whereabouts of the

35-year-old

tennis player

, this newspaper was able to confirm last Friday that she was in her apartment in a southeast neighborhood of

Beijing

.

Although his friends affirmed that he was fine and that he had "

total freedom

", two agents from the Office of National Security, the hard wing of what would become a Ministry of the Interior, were posted at the door of his development.

"I have doubts that it is free"

"While we now know where Peng is,

I seriously doubt that she is free

and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. If powerful people can suppress women's voices and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the foundation on which the WTA was founded,

equality for women, would suffer a huge setback,

"said Simon (64), who started in the sports industry as a tennis coach and took over the WTA in 2015. Before that, he ran the

Indian Wells Masters 1000

for 10 years

.

Peter Bodo

, a renowned American sports journalist, published a profile on the WTA president in Tennis magazine on Monday. "Like an owl, measured, his words carefully erased in color, he seemed to do his best to avoid attention as he established himself as a skilled manager and rainmaker. He

never stood out,

" writes Bodo. "Now, he has demonstrated his leadership ability in dealing with an authoritarian regime on a matter of principle and security."

For the writer and expert on China Michael Schuman, Simon's decision to remove the women's circuit from the country "is bad enough for a government that appreciates the country's participation in international sports. And, worse, the incident has further fueled calls to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, which will be held in just two months. "

Following the statement signed by Simon, the first to respond from Beijing was the editor of the state-run

Global Times

newspaper

, Hu Xijin, who on Thursday accused the WTA of "coercing" Peng Shuai to "

support the West's attack

" on China by suspending tournaments in the country.

Hours later, when asked about the issue at a press conference, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, only added that they are against "behaviors that politicize sports."


According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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