The Women’s Tennis Association is suspending all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement released Wednesday.
The decision from the WTA comes after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai alleged that she was sexually assaulted by China’s former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. The Chinese government deleted her post on the social media site Weibo, as well as her account. For weeks, there was concern over Peng’s safety.
“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation,” Simon said in the statement.
“The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”
The WTA did not note how many tournaments this decision will affect. But Simon said he is “greatly concerned” of the risks all players and staff would face if they were to hold events in China.
“The IOC’s eagerness to ignore the voice of an Olympian who may be in danger and to support claims of state-sponsored media in China shows the urgent and critical need for an IOC human rights strategy in close consultation with affected stakeholders, placing athletes at the center,” Andrea Florence, the acting director of the Sport & Rights Alliance, said in a statement.