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Tennis: The WTA is taking a stand

Tennis

The GIST: In an unprecedented move, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has suspended all tournaments in China over ongoing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (pronounced PUNG sh-WHY).

December 03, 2021
SOURCE: FRED LEE/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: FRED LEE/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: In an unprecedented move, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has suspended all tournaments in China over ongoing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (pronounced PUNG sh-WHY).

How we got here: After sharing sexual assault accusations against a top Chinese Communist Party official on November 2nd, Peng’s name was subject to censorship, and she was not publicly seen or heard from until November 20th, when Chinese state media released unverified photos and videos of Peng amid public outcry.

  • The next day, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach held a video call with Peng, claiming she was “safe and well.” But the announcement — lacking video or transcript of the call — was highly criticized.
  • Meanwhile, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon — who has openly called for a full investigation into Peng’s allegations — hasn’t been able to reach her directly. Which brings us to Wednesday’s major announcement.

The statement: Simon released a powerful statement announcing that the WTA would be immediately suspending all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, a decision that could cost the WTA hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • He wrote in part, “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.” Wow.
  • We applaud Simon and the WTA for protecting its players at the (potential) cost of its bottom line. Now, as discussed in yesterday’s episode of The GIST of It, we just need other organizations *cough* the IOC *cough* to follow suit.