WTA support for Peng Shuai a problem that has never happened in China

Steve Simon, chairman and chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association, understood the political and economic challenges his organization might face from the Chinese government, according to a number of sources familiar with the election process, not to mention the unprecedented priorities this week. . the protection of the athlete on the corporate business.

Simon made a statement on Sunday calling on China to conduct a fair and transparent investigation into the “allegations” without comment “on a statement made earlier this month by a talented football player. Peng Shuai that she was raped a few years ago by Zhang Gaoli, a former high-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party. Simon said he was concerned about Peng’s safety because repeated attempts to reach him in the past few weeks had failed. He did a recent email called Peng ensuring the WTA is safe does not seem real and is only provided raise her concerns. Several professional tennis professionals from around the world he repeated his worries for their millions of followers on social media this week.

Peng’s allegations against the group of a man who has previously held high office in the country have not materialized, according to Chinese human rights experts. The response of WTA officials and top tennis players is a lackluster approach, retaliating against a government that has been barring its citizens’ comments and retaliating against foreign sports organizations and other organizations doing business in China to protest. country, costing them millions of dollars.

“It is a strange response and appreciation for the WTA to be these words,” said Sarah Cook, co-director of research in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan at the DC think tank Freedom House. “We know from the various people who have been imprisoned in the past, global interest can change dramatically. This is not a legal choice; it is a political choice. a world like this. “

WTA officials did not respond to ESPN’s request several times this week, but Simon said in a series of questions that the WTA wanted to end trade relations with China if it did not respond further to questions about Peng’s security and safety. a fair investigation into his allegations. The WTA plans to play 10 games in China by 2022 and has an office in Beijing with local staff.

“We have done very well [in China], “Simon said in an interview with CNN on Thursday night. what is right and what is wrong. … We must begin as a world of decision-making based on what is right and wrong, time. “

The WTA recently signed a 10-year agreement to achieve the end of the year in the Chinese city of Shenzhen through 2028. The agreement was unique in terms of its length and economic value. Simon has previously stated that it represents $ 1 billion from China to boost the country’s women’s tennis reputation, including the construction of a new stadium in the city and a two-fold commitment to the event.

With the Olympics set to arrive in Beijing within three months, Peng’s response to WTA’s remarks could serve as a timely test for athletes if they decide to tackle China’s human rights issues, Cook said. On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the US was considering boycotting the Beijing Games – meaning American athletes would still compete but the ambassadors’ team would not go.

The International Olympic Committee declined to comment further on Peng, a three-time Olympian athlete, instead of saying “peace talks” is the most effective way to find a solution. Cook said this approach is a well-known approach, allowing the CCP to “keep the face” open. For example, the NBA has not said anything about public demonstrations of Chinese points made by a Boston Celtics player. One’s Edges or about the subsequent removal of the Celtics game from the flow of flow in this country.

Simon and WTA’s derogatory remarks appear to have given some to the tennis team, who also have the potential to make a lot of money in China, and the incitement to criticize the Chinese government – which a few other athletes do not have. it’s already happened.

“It can be a part of supporting the way these organizations speak,” Cook said.

Peng’s initial comments, posted on Weibo’s website, were removed shortly after the first week of November. Peng’s social media accounts are no longer visible on search results, and his comments about his allegations were reviewed.

Meanwhile Chinese officials have said so they “don’t know what’s going on” and Peng and declined to comment further.

Peng is one of the most recent Chinese celebrities. Hao Haidong, a leading Chinese youth football team, his TV social media accounts were deleted and his name was revoked after he challenged several CCP points in a YouTube video in 2020. His wife, Ye Zhaoying, a bronze medalist. medal in badminton in the Sydney Olympics, also censored after appearing in the video. Some well-known Chinese nationals from the film industry and the commercial world are also missing their online history without comment.

Cook said insults have increased dramatically in the last decade under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. He further added that the plaintiffs were arrested for posting Xi errors online and that some had lost access to their media profile or WeChat accounts, a connection and payment method in China.

Peng, 35, competed in international competitions in February 2020, when the WTA was on the verge of halting traffic events due to COVID-19. He has not said in the past if he wants to return to the WTA Tour and it is unknown whether the government will ban him from traveling for fear of making a mistake.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

“It’s not just a matter of solving the problem right now,” Cook said. “We are seeing a lot of freedom fighters being released from prison but they are not really free or able to leave the country …. They will not be free and it will be so.”

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