The WTA threatens to leave China: “Clarity on Shuai Peng”. And the UN: “Tell us where it is”

The N. 1 Steve Simon ready to give up the 10 tournaments scheduled in 2022: “Women must be respected and not censored”. For now, no reaction from the IOC

If the matter relating to Peng Shuai is not clarified, the WTA could decide not to organize more tournaments in China. “We are prepared to withdraw our activities and to face all the complications that will follow,” Steve Simon, number one of the WTA, told CNN. Because rape charges are more important than business ”. No declaration by the IOC for now. Peng, 35, accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli on social media in early November of forcing her into a sexual relationship three years ago before making her his mistress. The United Nations has also asked China to know where the tennis player is and how she is doing. “It would be important to have proof that she is fine and, furthermore, we would like there to be a transparent investigation into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations,” the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office told reporters in Geneva. Liz Throssell.

The boycott

Simon went further than calling for an independent investigation to shed light on the case and said the WTA plans ten events in China for 2022 worth tens of millions of dollars, but was willing to withdraw them. . “We are at a crossroads in our relationship with China and our business there,” he noted, adding that the WTA must demand justice and cannot compromise: “women must be respected and uncensored.” China has been at the center of the women’s professional tennis association’s aggressive expansion over the past decade, hosting nine tournaments in the 2019 season, the latest before the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a total prize pool of 30. 4 million dollars. China is also under pressure on a number of human rights issues, amid growing calls for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The WTA’s stance on Peng, if confirmed, would go much further than other sports organizations. who have struggled to balance the demands of fans and players to oppose human rights violations with their reliance on the Chinese market.

The complaint

Peng posted on November 2 on her Weibo account, the Twitter in Mandarin, the post with the allegations, her words were obscured in no time. Since then, the Chinese star, former number one in the world rankings for doubles thanks to victories at Wimbledon and Paris, has no longer communicated with the outside world or presented himself in public, while Zhang Gaoli, member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CCP from 2013 to 2018, he never reacted to the allegations. On Wednesday, the English-language channel CGTN, part of the state-owned CCTV, unveiled a screenshot of an email attributed to Peng that was reportedly sent to the WTA. Simon reiterated to CNN the doubts about the authenticity of the message in which the champion defines her accusations against Zhang as “false”. “I don’t think that’s the truth at all,” he added, describing the email as a “staging. If she was forced to write it, if anyone wrote it for her, we don’t know, but until we talk to her in person we won’t be reassured, ”concluded Simon.

Solidarity

In recent days, several tennis players, including Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, have asked for clarification on the fate of their colleague. And subsequently Osaka’s social profile was blacked out in China. A treatment reserved for Ozil last autumn: after his complaint against China’s mistreatment of Xinjiang Uyghurs, the country no longer broadcast the matches of Arsenal, which was his club at the time and which has since ended up excluding it from the project. His avatar has been deleted from the Komani Pro Evolution Soccer video game and also from search engines.

The explanations

Meanwhile, Global Times editor Hu Xijin tweeted that he didn’t believe Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai was a victim of retaliation. He is the first journalist in the country to explicitly comment on the affair and directs an ultra-nationalist tabloid close to power. “As a person familiar with the Chinese system, I don’t think Peng Shuai has received speculated retaliation and crackdowns by foreign media for the things people have talked about,” tweeted Hu.

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The WTA threatens to leave China: “Clarity on Shuai Peng”. And the UN: “Tell us where it is”

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