'[The] Chinese Communist Party has now targeted Peng Shuai, a tennis star who accused a former top Chinese government official of sexual assault. “Even if it is like an egg hitting a rock, or if I am like a moth drawn to the flame, inviting self-destruction, I will tell the truth about you,” she wrote on the social media platform Weibo. Then her message disappeared. And so did she.'
Weiss reports that the head of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, announced that the WTA was immediately suspending all tournaments in China because of what the country had reportedly done to Peng Shuai. Here is his statement:
'While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. 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.
'None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded—equality for women—would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.
'As a result, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong. 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. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.' [Emphasis added]
Good for the WTA! Good for Steve Simon. One would think it a no-brainer to come to this conclusion given everything China has its hands in these days. But money speaks loudly.
We will not hold our breath waiting for the rest of the sports world (and the world of corporate sponsors) to catch up.