Women’s Tennis Association suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai censorship

The Women’s Tennis Association will suspend all tournaments in China and in Hong Kong in response to China’s handling of Peng Shuai’s sexual-assault allegation and concerns that she has been censored.

Shuai accused a former Chinese government official of sexual assault in a November social media post that was since deleted.

Shuai was not seen publically until later in the month but many have expressed concerns that she was coerced.

“While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” WTA President and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement.

“The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”

The former top-ranked doubles player had a video call with Olympic officials in late November but it was unclear how the call was set up.

In a statement attributed to Shuai published by the international arm of a Chinese state-owned media, she later revoked her sexual assault allegation.

The European Union has called on China to release “verifiable proof” that Shuai is safe, adding that her public reappearance had not eased concerns about the player’s safety.

Simon continued in his statement: “In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault.”

“Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”

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