Peng Shuai video with Olympic officials fuels tennis showdown

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According to the IOC statement, Bach invited Peng to a dinner upon his arrival for the Games in Beijing, which would include Terho and Li Lingwei, an IOC member and Chinese Tennis Federation official who also participated in the appeal.

However, the plans for seemingly friendly banter and dinner parties didn’t do much to satisfy Steve Simon, the general manager of the WTA Tour. Simon tried to establish independent contact with Peng for over a week to no avail and grew increasingly vocal in his criticism of the Chinese government as his government-controlled media entities released a series of photos and videos. videos of her.

In a statement released on Sunday after the IOC video was released, a WTA spokesperson and Simon said, “It was good to see Peng Shuai in the recent videos, but they neither alleviate nor respond to the concerns. of the WTA regarding her well-being. and the ability to communicate without censorship or coercion. This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the question that aroused our initial concern.

While several senior sports officials spoke out on Peng’s behalf and asked the question “Where is Peng Shuai” which has gone viral in recent weeks, only Simon has made it clear that his organization will not host any tournaments in China if the government did. not grant him permission to roam freely, speak openly about the assault allegations and investigate the incident.

The move could cost professional women’s tennis hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from China, but in a letter to China’s ambassador to the United States on Friday, Simon reiterated the organization’s position. He said the WTA would not be able to continue hosting its nine events in China, including the prestigious Tour finals, which was due to take place in Shenzhen until 2028, if it could not guarantee the safety of the country’s tennis players.

The men’s professional tour also demanded assurance of Peng’s safety, but did not threaten to stop hosting tournaments in China, which is widely seen as a major growth market for all sports, but has significant moral risks for anyone dealing with an increasingly authoritarian government.

“Money trumps everything,” said Martina Navratilova, the former tennis champion and commentator, who defected to the United States at the age of 18 to escape Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

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