ITF ‘doesn’t wish to punish a billion folks’ by suspending China tournaments in Peng Shuai row

WTA remains 'deeply concerned' about Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai

2021-12-06 16:15:33

The Girls’s Tennis Affiliation (WTA) introduced a right away suspension of all tournaments in China, together with Hong Kong, in response to Beijing’s silencing of Chinese language tennis participant Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations. The ITF — which organizes grand slam occasions, annual workforce competitions for males, girls and blended groups and sanctions main tournaments — has been dealing with calls to do the identical.

One in all China’s most recognizable sports activities stars, Peng publicly accused a former high Communist Occasion official, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, of coercing her into intercourse at his residence three years in the past in a since-deleted social media put up dated November 2.

Peng was instantly muffled by blanket censorship and disappeared from public view for greater than two weeks.

David Haggerty, president of the ITF advised BBC Sport that the governing physique “stand[s] in assist of all girls’s rights,” including that the ITF “proceed to work behind the scenes and on to convey this to decision.”

“However it’s a must to keep in mind that the ITF is the governing physique of the game worldwide, and one of many issues that we’re accountable for is grassroots growth,” he stated.

“We do not wish to punish a billion folks, so we are going to proceed to run our junior occasions within the nation and our senior occasions which can be there in the meanwhile,” he added.

Final week, the ITF launched a brief assertion which famous: “Our main concern stays Peng Shuai’s wellbeing” and stated that the allegations the tennis star made “have to be addressed.”

CNN has reached out to the ITF for additional remark.

Who has spoken to Peng Shuai?

WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon stated final week that whereas the WTA now is aware of the place Peng is, he had “severe doubts that she is free, secure, and never topic to censorship, coercion, and intimidation.”

The Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) says it has held two calls with Peng.

In response to the Olympic group, IOC President Thomas Bach held a 30-minute video name with three-time Olympian Peng, alongside a Chinese language sports activities official and a further IOC consultant on November 21.

Peng playing a backhand during the 2020 Australian Open.

Final week, the IOC held a second name with Peng and stated that the Chinese language tennis star “reconfirmed” that she was secure and properly given the “troublesome state of affairs” she is in.

On Thursday, a WTA spokeswoman advised CNN it had obtained a brand new e mail from Peng — the third e mail it says it has had from her.

Citing a “confirmed supply” in a Twitter put up Thursday, Chinese language state media-affiliated reporter Shen Shiwei stated that the e-mail from Shuai “expressed her shock for WTA’s unfair determination to droop all tournaments in China.”

Reacting to this newest e mail, a WTA spokeswoman stated that the group stands by its determination to droop tournaments within the nation.

Lengthy-time IOC member Dick Pound just lately advised CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he was “puzzled” by the response to the video name between Peng and Bach in November.

“Principally, numerous folks world wide have been seeking to see what occurred to Peng Shuai and no person was capable of set up contact,” he stated.

“Solely the IOC was in a position to take action, and there was a dialog that was held by video with Thomas Bach, who’s an older Olympian, and two youthful feminine IOC members. No one’s launched the video as a result of I suppose that side of it was personal.

“They discovered her in good well being and in good spirits and so they noticed no proof of confinement or something like that.”

Pound added that he has not seen a recording of the video name, however is “merely counting on the mixed judgment of the three IOC members who have been on the decision.”

Chinese language authorities haven’t acknowledged Peng’s allegations towards Zhang and there’s no indication an investigation is underway.

Zhang has stored a low profile and light from public life since his retirement in 2018, and there’s no public data regarding his present whereabouts.

Earlier than retiring as vice premier, Zhang was the pinnacle of a Chinese language authorities working group for the Beijing Video games. Within the position, he inspected venues, visited athletes, unveiled official emblems and held conferences to coordinate preparation work.

Zhang beforehand met with IOC President Bach on a minimum of one event, with the 2 being photographed collectively shaking arms within the Chinese language capital in 2016.

It stays unclear if Peng has reported her allegations to the police.

At a information convention on December 2, responding to a query in regards to the WTA’s withdrawal, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of International Affairs stated, “China has at all times been firmly against any act that politicizes sports activities.”

CNN’s Ben Church and Aleks Klosok contributed reporting.

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