WTA action is set to return to China amidst concerns surrounding former Tennis star Peng Shuai’s safety
The WTA has taken a complete U-turn from its stance of not hosting tournaments in China ‘until they are allowed direct contact’ with Tennis star Peng Shuai. WTA had suspended tournaments in China back in December 2021 after a high-profile row with Beijing over Peng Shuai’s safety and well-being.
However, WTA President Steve Simon has now confirmed that they will return back to the Asian country in September this year and may as well host the season-ending WTA finals in the Chinese city of Shenzen.
In 2021, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai had posted a message on social media accusing China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The post was subsequently deleted, and Peng disappeared for three weeks.
After the news of this incident broke out, WTA suspended all of its tournaments in China and demanded a formal investigation into Peng’s allegations and requested the Chinese Government to allow WTA officials to have direct contact with her.
However, Peng later made an appearance at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and denied that she had accused anyone of sexual assault, terming it as ‘an enormous misunderstanding’.
When was the last time WTA tournament was held in the Asian nation?
China hosted WTA tournaments way back in 2019. Tennis was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 surge while in 2022, WTA had suspended events in China due to the Peng Shuai incident.
The suspension lasted for 16 months but it has now been officially withdrawn by the concerned authorities. The WTA action in China is scheduled to resume in September with eight tournaments in cities such as Beijing, Wuhan and other cities besides WTA’s flagship year-end WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
WTA President Steve Simon announced the withdrawal of the suspension in a Press Conference on Thursday. “We’ve been in this for 16 months and we are convinced that at this point our requests will not be met. To continue with the same strategy doesn’t make sense and a different approach is needed. Hopefully, by returning more progress can be made”, he stated.
WTA has suffered enormous financial losses over the past three years because China constitutes a major portion of the organisation’s revenue.
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