The Women’s Tennis Association announced on Wednesday afternoon that it is suspending all of its tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, due to the Chinese government’s alleged inaction regarding Peng Shuai’s accusation of sexual assault and continuing questions about her safety. „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 decision to pull out of China could cost the organization hundreds of millions because it has seriously invested in Chinese women’s tennis.
No one could directly reach Peng Shuai, one of China’s most recognizable sports stars, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion and three-time Olympian, after she publicly accused a high-ranking government official a month ago of sexually assaulting her. “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 Steve Simon also said in the statement. „If we walk away from this, we’re basically telling the world, that not addressing sexual assault with the respect and seriousness it requires is OK,” the organization concluded. WTA’s decision to pull out of China was applauded Wednesday by some biggest names in women’s tennis, many of whom have previously voiced concerns for Peng’s safety and whereabouts on Twitter. Chinese authorities have not acknowledged Peng’s allegations against Zhang and there is no indication an investigation is underway.