The organization that governs women’s tennis distrusts the apparent good condition of the player transmitted by the Chinese state media
The CEO of the organization, Steve Simon, has published a statement announcing the suspension of all tournaments scheduled to be held in the Asian giant.
The reason? The suspicion that the situation of tennis player Peng Shuai arouses. She denounced a former vice president of her country for sexual abuse and the evidence provided of her situation has not convinced the WTA.
The organization is committed to defending the fulfillment of human rights and considers that there are serious doubts about the situation and the whereabouts of Peng Shuai.
The WTA does not rule out that they are experiencing censorship, coercion and intimidation. “With the support of the entire WTA board of directors, I announce the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including the one held in Hong Kong.” Said Steve Simon.
Shuai Peng was not many years ago one of the best doubles players in the world. She was the first woman from her country to become number one on the doubles circuit and went on to win Roland Garros in 2014, two singles titles (Tianjin 2016 and Nanchang 2017) and 23 in her entire career.
Peng, 35, is currently number 191 in the world and has not competed since before the pandemic. Her last tournament was in February 2020 in Doha.
Peng denounced the former vice president of his country Zhang Gaoli on the Weibo social network by ensuring that she suffered sexual abuse. The message lasted less than half an hour in public view and according to “Le Monde” the tennis player was missing for a few days.
Peng denounced that Zhang Gaoli, who was 75 years old and one of the most important Chinese politicians between 2013 and 2018, forced her to have sex on two occasions in the last ten years.
“The rape allegations affect such a high-ranking leader within the Chinese government for the first time. But the silence of the young woman since the case was made public raises fears of what may have happened to her,” according to Simon Leplâtre, correspondent for “Le Monde” in Shanghai.
Well it turns out two Chinese journalists published videos of the tennis player. “I acquired two video clips showing that Peng Shuai is having dinner with his coach and friends at a restaurant. The content of the video clearly shows that they were filmed on Saturday Beijing time,” wrote one of them.
Another Hu Xijin, from the “Global Times”, assures that he has photos in which the tennis player is seen in a normal state. “Today I have confirmed through my sources that these photos are from the current state of Peng Shuai. In recent days, she stayed in her own home and did not want to be disturbed. Soon he will be performing in public and participating in some activities”.
Steve Simon has already warned of the decision that the WTA could take: “Glad to see the videos published by the Chinese state media that appear to show Peng Shuai in a restaurant in Beijing. While it is positive to see her, it is unclear whether she is free and capable of making decisions and acting on her own, without coercion or outside interference. This video alone is insufficient. As I have said from the beginning, I remain concerned for Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault charge is being censored and hidden under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads. ”
The crossroads has led to the suspension of the WTA tournaments in China and Hong Kong.