The WTA remains ‘concerned’ about Ping’s ability to speak freely

The WTA remains ‘concerned’ about Ping’s ability to speak freely

WTA president Steve Simon says he remains “extremely concerned” about the whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and her ability to “communicate freely, publicly and directly” after allegations that a powerful politician forced her into sex.

Ping, a three-time Olympian and former number one doubles player, pulled out of sight after former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli was accused of sexual assault on November 2 on the Chinese internet, which was quickly deleted by the Chinese. the authorities.

“Steve Simon has contacted Peng Shuai through various communication channels,” the WTA said in a statement on Saturday.

“He sent her two emails, and her responses were clearly influenced by others. He remains deeply concerned that Peng is not free from censorship or coercion and has decided not to engage again via email until he is satisfied that her responses were her responses, not those of her censors.” The WTA remains concerned about its ability to communicate freely, publicly and directly.”

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A week ago, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he had spoken with Peng via video call. The IOC did not release any transcript and only said that Bach stated that she said she was fine.

The International Olympic Committee has released a photo of Bach speaking with Ping through a video screenshot.

The IOC said in a statement that Ping appeared to be “fine” and said it had asked for privacy. The IOC did not explain how the call was arranged, although it has worked closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee and government officials to organize the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, which will open on February 4.

Critics have suggested that Ping wouldn’t have called the IOC if she had really been free to speak.

Human Rights Watch criticized the IOC for cooperating with the Chinese Propaganda Department in arranging a conversation with Peng. The International Olympic Committee has previously intervened in other human rights issues roiling the Beijing Winter Olympics, claiming they should be impartial.

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“The International Olympic Committee has jumped from silence about Beijing’s poor human rights record to actively cooperating with Chinese authorities in undermining freedom of expression and ignoring alleged sexual abuse,” said Yaki Wang, researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Simon has threatened to pull the WTA events out of China unless he gets clear answers and assurances that Peng is speaking freely. It is the first sports body to openly resist China, which provides critical income to other sports bodies such as the International Olympic Committee and the National Basketball Association.

The whereabouts of the 75-year-old Zhang, the man who was accused by Peng, has not been reported. He did not speak publicly about the incident. He resigned from the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee about three years ago.

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