Sexual Assault: ‘China excluded from WTA Tour’

Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

WTA chief Steve Simon said no tournament will be held in China in 2022 until they find a common ground in the dispute between the Peng Shua and China Vice Premier, Zhang Gaoli.

Peng has accused Zhang of sexual assault in November last year through a post that alerted the WTA which is very much concerned about her wellbeing The Trumpet gathered.

Though the former doubles world No 1 had denied such an incident, WTA undeterred by the tennis star’s claims insist that none of its tournaments will take place in China until the issue is resolved among the concerned parties.

Peng, who had earlier announced her retirement from professional tennis made a shocking return in February to the Winter Olympics held in China where she had a meeting with the WTA CEO.

Following Peng’s accusations of being assaulted sexually, the WTA in a swift reaction suspended all its games from China, a move that saw the women’s elite tennis governing body losing millions of dollars in broadcast rights and sponsorship.

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In a statement by Simon, he said that the WTA Tour for the year 2022 will be announced soon and predicted that the event will hold on fairly solid ground according to Tennis Podcast.

Steve stressed that until a resolution is reached with the Chinese government, WTA, and Peng whose whereabouts are unknown after the winter Olympics, none of its events will be held in the Asian country.

Though the ATP Tour will be held in the country despite the synergy that exists with WTA, CEO Steve Simon adjudged that the men’s tennis world governing body has no athlete that was abused.

“We remain dedicated to finding a resolution to this. We want to find a resolution that Peng can be comfortable with, the Chinese government can be comfortable with, and we can be comfortable with.

“We are not about walking away from China. We have suspended our operations there right now. We will continue to do that until we get to a resolution.

“We will stay resolute. We do hope to be back there in 2023 with a resolution that shows progress was made in space. That’s a victory for the world if we can accomplish that,” Simon said.

However, Simon expressing his disapproval over Peng’s disappearance from the scene after the Olympics lamented that her actions cannot create the desired change the world seeks no matter how minute it may be.

He continued: “We have not had any recent communication with Peng and the world has not seen Peng since the Olympics either.

“I don’t think you will make a change in this world by walking away from issues. You have to create change.

“It might not be everything we want. But we have to find a solution that finds that balance that allows us to go back and see progress in the area,” he added.

The WTA expects a collaboration with the ATP which is going ahead with its tours in China to forge a united front on the assault case but CEO Simon does not seem to influence their decision.

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