China hits back at WTA as IOC says it has spoken again to Peng Shuai

China has attacked the Women’s Tennis Association’s boycott in response to the treatment of Peng Shuai, as two other major international tennis associations steered clear of the subject of future events in a market worth billions of dollars. Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a daily briefing that his government was “always firmly opposed to acts that politicise sports”. The WTA said on Wednesday it was suspending all tournaments in China in response to continued questions over Peng’s condition. Its chair, Steve Simon, said he did not see…

‘Where is **?’: Fans in China Elude Censors to Talk About Peng Shuai

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Julien Chen was getting ready for bed when he learned that one of his favorite Chinese tennis players, Peng Shuai, had made #MeToo allegations against a powerful Chinese official. A friend told him to check Ms. Peng’s social media account. “There’s a ‘huge melon’ in the tennis circle,” the friend wrote, using the Chinese metaphor for a bombshell. Mr. Chen couldn’t find anything. He searched the word “tennis,” but Ms. Peng — one of China’s most famous athletes — appeared in barely any results. With stunning efficiency, China’s censors had…

WTA Suspends Tournaments in China Over Treatment of Peng Shuai

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The women’s professional tennis tour announced Wednesday that it was immediately suspending all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, in response to the disappearance from public life of the tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top Communist Party leader of sexual assault. The move, which represents a groundbreaking shift in how major sports organizations deal with China’s increasingly authoritarian government, comes as the Women’s Tennis Association has failed to speak directly with Peng after she made the accusations in posts on her social media channels that were soon…

China’s Silence on Peng Shuai Shows Limits of Beijing’s Propaganda

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When the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accused a former top leader of sexual assault earlier this month, the authorities turned to a tried-and-true strategy. At home, the country’s censors scrubbed away any mention of the allegations. Abroad, a few state-affiliated journalists focused narrowly on trying to quash concerns about Ms. Peng’s safety. Beijing seems to be relying on a two-pronged approach of maintaining the silence and waiting for the world to move on. The approach suggests that the country’s sprawling propaganda apparatus has limited options for shifting the narrative…

WTA still ‘deeply concerned’ over Peng Shuai’s ability to communicate freely

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said it remains “deeply concerned” about the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, weeks after she disappeared following her allegations against a high-ranking Chinese former politician. The WTA said in an email statement on Saturday that its chief executive, Steve Simon, had attempted to contact Peng through “various communication channels” including two emails. It said it was concerned about her welfare and ability to communicate freely and that her responses were “clearly” influenced by others. A spokesperson said Simon “remains deeply concerned that Peng is…

Thomas Bach Is Criticized for His Handling of the Peng Shuai Case

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“What the I.O.C. established is that quiet and discreet diplomacy gets you better than clashing cymbals,” Pound said. “That’s not the way you deal with any country, certainly not with China.” It is unclear how Bach managed to engineer a call with Peng when the WTA Tour and others had been unsuccessful, though the presence on the call of an I.O.C. member from China, Li Lingwei, offered a tantalizing clue. “The I.O.C. has vaulted itself from silence about Beijing’s abysmal human rights record to active collaboration with Chinese authorities in…

Peng Shuai: the tennis star at centre of China’s biggest #MeToo allegation

After Peng Shuai and Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková won the doubles final at the 2014 Beijing Open, they went to karaoke to celebrate. The fifth-seeded duo had just beaten India’s Sania Mirza and Zimbabwe’s Cara Black, who had never lost a match in the Asia-Pacific region. “She was at the beginning of her comeback and I was happy to be there to play with her,” Hlaváčková recalls, on the phone from Rome. Their victory called for a night out so they went to a big Beijing nightclub. “She was singing a…

Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning. We’re covering booster shots in France, Peng Shuai’s piercing accusations in China and the Pakistani madrasa that has educated many Taliban leaders. A French rush for boosters Thousands rushed to book appointments for coronavirus booster shots on Thursday after the French government said that health passes would soon no longer be valid without them. Amid a surge in new cases and rising hospitalizations, the government made all adults eligible for booster shots starting this weekend. The health minister, Olivier Véran, said that over 400,000 vaccination appointments had been…

Peng Shuai’s Accusation Pierced the Privileged Citadel of Chinese Politics

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Before Zhang Gaoli was engulfed in accusations that he had sexually assaulted a tennis champion, he seemed to embody the qualities that the Chinese Communist Party prizes in officials: austere, disciplined, and impeccably loyal to the leader of the day. He had climbed steadily from running an oil refinery to a succession of leadership posts along China’s fast-growing coast, avoiding the scandals and controversy that felled other, flashily ambitious politicians. He became known, if for anything, for his monotone impersonality. On entering China’s top leadership, he invited people to search…

Do Sports Still Need China?

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Ultimately, the affair showed how even the most conscientious organizations could find their plans undermined by Chinese politics, how any business could unwillingly become a vessel for an international spat. “If you’re angering both sides, it means there is no middle ground, which I think was significant,” said Dreyer, the Beijing-based sports analyst. Like other observers, Dreyer suggested the WTA’s stance was potentially game-changing. But he noted, too, that it was possibly easier for the WTA to defy China than it had been for, say, the N.B.A., for two reasons.…

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