Peng Shuai: WTA “Willing” to Withdraw Tournaments from China Following Allegations of Player Sexual Assault | Tennis News
Peng Shuai, 35, has not been seen or heard publicly since claiming on social media that the former Chinese vice premier sexually assaulted her; Chinese state media published letter attributed to Peng, but doubts were raised about his legitimacy
Last updated: 11/19/21 7:08 am
The outcry over the fate of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai escalated on Friday as the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said it was ready to withdraw its tournaments from China if it was not satisfied with the response to her allegation of sexual assault.
The former world No.1 doubles Peng has not been seen or heard from publicly since she said on Chinese social media in early November that former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her to have intercourse and that they subsequently had an intermittent consensual relationship.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has commented on his allegation. Peng’s social media post was quickly deleted, and the topic was blocked in heavily censored internet chats in China.
Concern within the global tennis community and beyond has grown over Peng’s safety and fate since his allegation, with the WTA calling for an investigation and the world’s top players including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, tweeting #WhereIsPengShuai.
I am devastated and shocked to hear the news from my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not remain silent. I send love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
– Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
WTA chief executive Steve Simon told various U.S. media outlets that the tour will consider removing tournaments worth tens of millions of dollars from China.
“We are definitely ready to retire our business and face all the complications that come with it,” he said. CNN in an interview.
“Because it sure is, it’s bigger than business. Women should be respected and not censored.”
The problem emerged as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February amid calls from global human rights groups and others to boycott its rights record. humans.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would not comment on the matter.
“Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution to questions of this nature,” said an IOC spokesperson. “This explains why the IOC will not comment further at this point.”
US Representative Jim Banks of Indiana said he wrote to US President Joe Biden about Peng’s disappearance, urging him to raise his case with China and warn Beijing that it could have a negative impact on the Winter Olympics.
WTA’s Simon on Wednesday questioned an email, which was also posted by Chinese state media on Twitter, claiming to be from Peng and denying the sexual assault allegations.
Steve Simon, chairman and chief executive of the WTA, said they “fully expect” China to help prove Peng Shuai is safe after an email allegedly from Ms Peng denied his disappearance.
“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is attributed to him,” he said.
As of Friday, the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai had racked up more than 32 million mentions on Facebook’s Instagram, which is also blocked in China, as well as on Twitter, according to hashtag analysis site BrandMentions.
In contrast, the subject remains heavily censored in tightly controlled Chinese cyberspace. Searches for the official WTA account on Weibo on Friday yielded no results although his account remained available. Peng’s name on Weibo also continues to yield no search results.
Still, a handful of Chinese users took to the official Weibo accounts of tennis stars Williams and Novak Djokovic, who also expressed shock at the situation, to thank them for posting statements. “Thanks for speaking! One of them said.