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Women’s Tennis Association Pulls Out of China Over Censorship of Peng Shuai

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The Women’s Tennis Association is suspending all tournaments in mainland China and Hong Kong due to concerns over Beijing’s treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai .

The Women’s Tennis Association is suspending all tournaments in mainland China and Hong Kong due to concerns over Beijing’s treatment of tennis star Peng Shuai. “In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” WTA ’s chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a Dec.1 statement. The wellbeing of Peng, a three-time Olympian and former world number one doubles player, has become a matter of international concern since she made sexual allegations against former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli early last month, and then disappeared from public view for nearly three weeks. Her post was erased within half an hour from her personal account on Chinese social media Weibo, which has been frozen. Discussion about Peng and her allegations have also been heavily censored online in the country. Since Peng’s disappearance, the WTA has been at the forefront in the growing pressure campaign on Beijing to provide verifiable proof of the tennis player’s safety. Over the past weeks, tennis players, governments, and advocacy groups have sounded the alarm over the issue, handing Beijing a PR quagmire less than two months ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics—an event already under scrutiny over communist China’s rampant human rights abuses.

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