Chinese Tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public view after accusing former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual harassment in a social media post on November 2.
The WTA today (December 2) announced that it had cancelled all WTA tournaments in China over safety concerns about tennis star Peng Shuai.
In a statement on Thursday (December 2), WTA Chairman & CEO Steve Simon said, “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.”
Expressing his doubts over the state of affairs in China, he said, “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.”
On November 2, Peng Shuai had accused former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual harassment in a viral social media post.
In the viral post, she wrote, “I know that to you, vice minister Zhang Gaoli, a person of high status and power, you’ve said you’re not afraid. With your intelligence, you certainly will deny it or you can even use it against me, you can dismiss it without a care. Even if I’m destroying myself, like throwing an egg against a rock, or a moth flying into a flame, I will still speak out the truth about us.”
The post was immediately censored by the Chinese authorities and removed from Chinese social media platforms.
Condemning the Chinese authorities for this censorship, Simon 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. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.”
Several Chinese business leaders, activists and ordinary people have disappeared after criticising the ruling Communist Party leaders.
In an interview with AP in November, disappeared Interpol Chief Meng Hongwei’s wife Grace Meng had said, “The Chinese Communist Party is a monster which eats its children.”
Earlier, Alibaba founder Jack Ma had disappeared after criticising the Chinese authorities. Chinese actress Zhao Wei disappeared in August this year. The actress got into trouble after hiring a Taiwanese actor to play a lead role in the film.