WTA CEO Steve Simon is not happy at all how China has been handling the Peng Shuai case and he has taken a radical action, suspending all tournaments scheduled to take place in China in 2022, including Hong Kong. Peng went missing in China early last month after accusing a former Chinese vice premier of sexual assault.
The WTA have been calling for a transparent investigation into Peng's claims to and they wanted to communicate directly with Peng but that hasn't happened. "Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way.
While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. 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," WTA CEO Simon announced in a statement released on Wednesday.
"None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback.
I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players."
The WTA takes a radical stand in the Peng case
"As a result, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong.
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," WTA CEO Simon added.
"I very much regret it has come to this point. The tennis communities in China and Hong Kong are full of great people with whom we have worked for many years. They should be proud of their achievements, hospitality and success.
However, unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China. China’s leaders have left the WTA with no choice. I remain hopeful that our pleas will be heard and the Chinese authorities will take steps to legitimately address this issue”.