Women's Tennis Association suspends tournaments in China: Here's why
In a major development, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has decided to suspend all tournaments in China with concerns over the safety of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. Last month, Peng went missing after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault. WTA chief Steve Simon has serious doubts that Peng was "free, safe, and not subject to intimidation". Here are further details.
Why does this story matter?
The WTA has had concerns about Peng's safety ever since she disappeared from public view. The association has perpetually demanded a full investigation regarding the same. As per recent reports, Peng told Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, that she was "safe and well". However, the WTA said the evidence remains "insufficient".
WTA withdraws tournaments from China
Simon, in a lengthy statement, announced that WTA has withdrawn tournaments from China. "The leadership in China hasn't addressed this very serious issue in any credible way," he said. "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."
What is the matter?
The whereabouts of the Chinese tennis star Peng, who accused former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault, have been a matter of international concern. Peng, through a statement, revealed that she and Zhang had an on-off "extramarital relationship". She highlighted that Zhang once invited her to play tennis with him where he and his wife sexually assaulted Peng.
Footage doesn't address the concerns: WTA
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China's state-run newspaper, the Global Times, recently released a video on Twitter that showed Peng getting introduced at a youth tennis match in Beijing. However, a WTA spokesperson said the footage alone wasn't enough. Meanwhile, Simon said, "While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions."