The WTA bans tournaments in China
The world sports community applauded the call by the Women's Tennis Association not to play any tournaments in China until the situation of player Peng Shuai is clarified.
The tennis world still has not gotten much solace after the mysterious disappearance of the player Peng Shuai, after she denounced having been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the Chinese government. Although the player appeared days later making statements through a video call, it only aroused more questions and suspicion on the part of international authorities.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
The World Tennis Federation (WTA) set a precedent against a world power and acted decisively not to normalize events such as the worrying disappearance of the professional tennis player.
Regardless of the millions of dollars at stake, especially since China is one of the most important markets for world tennis, the WTA announced a boycott until the Shuai case is resolved.
"I cannot require our athletes, without guilt of conscience, to compete there if Peng Shuai is not allowed to speak freely and has apparently been pressured to drop her allegations of sexual assault," said Steve Simon, the president of the association.
"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."
— wta (@WTA) December 1, 2021
After the 35-year-old tennis player accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of sexual abuse, she mysteriously disappeared, and only appeared in a video call after international complaints, some emails, and other short interventions.
However, more than a month after Shuai's complaints, the player did not show any real signs of being well, not even after a video call with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, whom many called out to appear in favor of the Chinese government.
Unlike FIFA, the IOC, or Formula 1, the WTA took a stance that goes beyond its commercial interests. Rather than remain silent in the face of the strange events that have surrounded the disappearance and intermittent appearance of Peng Shuai, the association takes a symbolic step that exposes the misplaced actions of a government as powerful as the Chinese.
An opposite example of this courageous boycott of the WTA is the upcoming World Cup in Qatar next year, which is forging ahead regardless of the clear human rights abuses by the Qatari government in preparation.
"I have been gratified by the massive amount of international support the WTA has received for its position on this matter. To further protect Peng and many other women throughout the world, it is more urgent than ever for people to speak out. The WTA will do everything possible to protect its players. As we do so, I hope leaders around the world will continue to speak out so justice can be done for Peng, and all women, no matter the financial ramifications," said Simon in a release.